Friends of Alzheimer's Research Endowed Professorship
The Friends of Alzheimer’s Research Endowed Professorship was established in 2007 to enhance the University’s ability to attract and retain distinguished faculty in Alzheimer’s disease research. The Friends of Alzheimer’s Research is an advisory board that partners with the UW Medicine Advancement to raise funds for Alzheimer’s disease research at the University of Washington Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. In addition, the Friends promote greater public awareness of this disease.
In 1983, Dr. Burton Reifler, director of the Geriatric and Family Services clinic at the University of Washington, met with several family members and caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients. They discussed options for disseminating information to the public and raising funds to support Alzheimer’s disease research at the University of Washington. Little was known about the cause and progression of Alzheimer’s disease, and additional local funding was needed to address these concerns. This small group of founding members — John Harris, Jerry Kane, and Jim Kizer — came together to create the Friends of Alzheimer’s Research Board, staffed by Valerie Peterson. Dr. Reifler served as the UW faculty liaison and provided guidance and leadership to the board. Dr. Reifler gradually recruited new members, including Jay Conte, Nancy Silvernale and Rochelle Alhadeff. The Friends of Alzheimer’s Research Board has now grown to include 12-plus members and a broad network of supporters.
Board members raised funds through an annual solicitation letter, a public awareness campaign, and “A Day at the Races” fundraising event and silent auction held annually at Longacres Racetrack in the mid-1980s. The board also initiated and sponsored an annual Alzheimer’s forum that drew large audiences to hear about new research developments by leading UW faculty members. In the late 1980s, new board member Marilyn Conner hosted a wine-tasting and informational evening at her home to thank generous contributors and to promote the board and public awareness of Alzheimer’s disease. Over the next few years, the board transformed the event into a live and silent auction, which developed into an annual Petite Wine Auction. Initial funding priorities focused on supporting University of Washington pilot studies in a variety of research areas. Many of these pilot studies resulted in larger federal grants for investigators to continue their research.
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