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From the Rush Archives: Honoring Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

by Nathalie Wheaton on 2020-06-17T15:45:46-05:00 in Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia, History | 0 Comments

-Assistance on this post provided by Rush Archives Work Study Student Kirsten Petrarca, Doctoral Student in Audiology, Rush University.

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month! Alzheimer’s disease was first described in 1906 by Alois Alzheimer, MD. In the 1980s, awareness of the disease and research into causes and treatments increased. Beginning in 1984, the National Institute on Aging began to fund Alzheimer’s Disease Centers across the country, including the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, and established a nationwide network for Alzheimer’s research.

Rush has a countless list of projects, initiatives, and milestones regarding its commitment to understanding Alzheimer’s disease. In honor of Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month this month, the Rush Archives will try to focus on a few of these accomplishments in Rush’s history. Other items will be shared for World Alzheimer’s Day, September 21, and November’s Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

Rush has long been involved in Alzheimer’s research, including a five-year, multidisciplinary study that concluded in 1983. The goal of this study was to develop a reliable description of the psychological and clinical changes characteristic of Alzheimer’s to aid in accurate diagnosis of the disease. This study was headed by Jacob H. Fox, MD, associate professor, neurologic sciences, and included the coordinated efforts of the departments of neurology, geriatrics, psychology, psychiatry, and speech and hearing sciences.

An extended feature in Rush’s The Magazine*, Winter 1982-1983, “Old Age—The Best of Times; The Worst of Times?” by Krys Kazieczko-Kuszak provides an interesting glimpse into the research of Alzheimer’s and theories about possible causes or treatments in the early 1980s. Read this feature here:

Caption: Jacob H. Fox, MD reviews CT scans of patients for Alzheimer’s Disease study in Rush’s The Magazine, Winter 1982-83, page 5.

Dr. Fox served as the chairman of neurological sciences at Rush for 26 years, retiring from this position in 2016. Dr. Fox is The Joseph and Florence Manaster Foundation Professor of Multiple Sclerosis, and professor emeritus, Department of Neurological Sciences, Rush Medical College.

Alzheimer’s research at Rush continued further in 1993 when Rush was awarded $7 million by the National Institute on Aging. This longitudinal study, called the “Chicago Health and Aging Project,” was led by Denis Evans, MD, the director of the Rush Center for Research on Health and Aging. According to Dr. Evans, this study was a collaborative effort between Rush and the community to find answers. Dr. Evans’s team hoped to find specific risk factors – including race, education, and sex – for the development of Alzheimer’s disease and reversible risk factors.

To learn more about the launch of this study, read “Rush Awarded $7 Million for Alzheimer’s Study” from The Magazine, Summer 1993:

*Rush published The Magazine, a news magazine devoted to research at Rush and alumni activities, 1975-1993. The Rush Archives digitized and made this collection available online through the Internet Archive. Explore The Magazine, Rush Archives Collection #4730, and other Rush publications here:

Want to learn more about the history of Rush or the Rush Archives collections? Visit the Rush Archives website or contact the archivist, Nathalie Wheaton, MSLS.

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