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Alzheimer's Program Features Personal, Family Accounts

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Duke Health News 919-660-1306

DURHAM, N.C. -- A popular musician's account of his struggle with Alzheimer's disease, the newest research into causes of the disease, and a memorial to philanthropist Joseph Bryan highlight the 10th annual Duke University Medical Center conference on Alzheimer's on Feb. 8 and 9.

Among speakers during the two days at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel in Research Triangle Park will be Tommy Thompson, founder of the well-known bluegrass band The Red Clay Ramblers, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's three years ago, said Lisa Gwyther, education director of the Joseph and Kathleen Bryan Alzheimer's Disease Research Center.

The 1996 conference will be the first since Bryan's death last year at age 99. He had attended all the previous conferences, which are sponsored by the center that was founded as a result of his dedication and generosity.

Dr. Clifford Jones, president of the General Baptist State Convention, and the Rev. Henry L. Edmonds, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Durham, will speak during "Sons Who Care: Personal Perspectives," a session about the role of men in caring for relatives with Alzheimer's.

A featured scientific speaker will be Dr. Peter H. St. George-Hyslop of the University of Toronto, whose work last year in familial early-onset Alzheimer's revealed chromosomal mutations associated with the disease.

New funding strategies geared to the accelerated pace of Alzheimer's research will kick off the program on Friday, Feb. 9, when Zaven Khachaturian, director of the newly formed Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research Institute of the National Alzheimer's Association, addresses the session.

Other topics on the agenda during the two days include special medical and nursing needs of Alzheimer's patients, special care settings, conflict within patients' families and the new directions Alzheimer's research is taking at Duke and elsewhere.

Bryan, whose wife died from Alzheimer's in 1984, contributed funds that helped found the center and donated $10 million for construction of its building. He was widely known across North Carolina for his philanthropy and had received the North Carolina Award, the state's highest honor. The Duke Chapel memorial service at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 8, will be open to the public.

The service will include remarks by Duke President Nannerl O. Keohane and Dr. Allen Roses, director of the Bryan Center. Dennis M. Campbell, dean of the Duke Divinity School, will officiate. The memorial will be followed by a tour of the Duke campus and the Bryan Research Center.

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