by Grace Kim
It started back in 1986, in a conversation with his new primary care physician about how Alzheimer’s disease seemed to run in his mother’s family. It was at this visit that Mr. F first learned about Alzheimer’s research studies at the University of Washington Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC). He decided to find out more, called the nurse who was coordinating the research, and soon became one of the ADRC’s very first research volunteers. The idea of volunteering came naturally to him. He first became inspired to donate blood in 1936, when his college fraternity brother needed blood due to a serious accident. Mr. F has an unusual blood type that matched his fraternity brother’s. Throughout World War II, and for many years afterward, he continued to give blood. When asked what it was about giving blood that he felt particularly good about, he responded “helping other people.”
Mr. F’s desire to help other people has helped make his experience as a research participant here at the ADRC a very positive one. He states that he has “enjoyed it very much… everyone I have met… in the program are such wonderful people. It has been just a great experience… they’ve all been an inspiration.” He further explains, “it’s people that drive this program,” and notes that the staff have worked hard to make his experience positive. When asked about his experiences as a research volunteer, he recalls that the most memorable one was when he donated spinal fluid. He was impressed with the care Dr. Elaine Peskind took throughout the process, saying that she “stayed with it, that was the thing.”
When asked about what he would say to people who might be considering volunteering for research at the UW ADRC, he states that they “should have no fear of it.” He is astonished with the progress that the ADRC has made since he began volunteering, stating that “what they are achieving has been outstanding just in the period of time I’ve been here.” Most importantly, he emphasized, “If you want the advance of medicine, we’ve got to have people that will cooperate and be willing to do this. Otherwise we’re not going to have the advances that we are making in medicine today.”
Thanks to Mr. F and hundreds of other research volunteers, the UW ADRC is noted as one of the most outstanding Alzheimer’s disease research programs in the world, furthering our understanding of the biological, genetic, and psychological aspects of the disease. Ongoing partnerships between researchers, clinicians, and most importantly, research volunteers, lead to new knowledge every day, and will help us make the breakthroughs that we hope will lead to the eventual elimination of Alzheimer’s disease.
To learn more about becoming a research volunteer, visit the UW ADRC website at www.uwadrc.org or call our toll free number:1-800-317-5382.