UAMS Dedicates Pat and Willard Walker Family Memory Research Center

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – The Pat and Willard Walker Family Memory Research Center was dedicated today at the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).

 The UAMS Memory Research Center was established in 2001, but the center was renamed in recognition of a $ 5 million gift from the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation, matched by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. The gift will expand and intensify UAMS’ studies on Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive disorders. The original center was one of only 29 nationwide developed with grants from the National Institute on Aging.

 “The Walker family has always had a deep commitment to the health and wellbeing of other Arkansans. Through their gift to the Memory Research Center, other families will find support and new treatments for those suffering from memory disorders,” said UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson.

 Among those attending the event were Pat Walker; her daughter, Pat Tennison; her daughter-in-law, Debbie Walker, executive director of the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation; Frank Broyles, athletic director of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; David Lipschitz, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Institute on Aging; Cornelia Beck, R.N., Ph.D.; and Sue Griffin, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Geriatrics.

 “This is a wonderful gift to UAMS, the Institute on Aging and the people of Arkansas,” said Lipschitz. “It will definitely help us in our pursuit for better treatments for our patients with Alzheimer’s disease.”

Broyles, whose wife, Barbara, died of Alzheimer’s disease in October 2004, has been an advocate for continued research on the disease, and is actively supporting the Ronald Reagan Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Act of 2005 currently before Congress. He recently helped persuade the state Legislature to pass a bill requiring 15 hours of additional training on Alzheimer’s disease for certified nursing assistants working in nursing homes.

Beck, director of the Memory Research Center, said, “We’ve already seen tremendous success in our research on Alzheimer’s disease.” She also is a professor in the departments of Geriatrics, and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the UAMS College of Medicine and professor in the College of Nursing.

The center combines patient care with research to provide the most up-to-date treatment available. Currently, one-fourth of patients followed by the Reynolds Department of Geriatrics have some form of memory loss.

Current clinical research, which involves working directly with patients, includes promoting functional independence, dealing with problem behaviors, promoting sleep, the use of community-based services by caregivers and persons with dementia, and measuring outcomes of services for persons with dementia.

 Other basic science research at UAMS on Alzheimer’s disease has discovered a link between proteins secreted by cells that control inflammation and the increased probability of onset of Alzheimer’s disease. This is seen as a significant breakthrough in the early detection and treatment of Alzheimer’s.

 The donations from the Walker family and Reynolds Foundation will allow the center to develop educational programs to caregivers of people with cognitive disorders. Plans include creating a model program that can be replicated at each of the seven satellite Centers on Aging statewide. The program will incorporate educational sessions and printed materials, stress reduction courses, training courses for chaplains and coordination of an annual telecast conference for caregivers.

 UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, five centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has more than 2,200 students and 660 residents and is the state’s largest public employer with almost 9,000 employees. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $4.1 billion a year.

 UAMS centers of excellence are the Arkansas Cancer Research Center, Harvey and Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy and Jackson T. Stephens Spine and Neurosciences Institute.