Bill and Rebecca Reed, members of the Development Board at UT Health San Antonio, are giving $1 million to advance the missions of the university’s Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases.
William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP, president of UT Health San Antonio, announced the Reeds’ contribution Feb. 24 at “Dialogues on Dementia at the Tobin Center,” an event presented by the Glenn Biggs Institute and the Alzheimer’s Association.
“We thank Bill and Rebecca for their vision and generosity in supporting the Glenn Biggs Institute, which we established after raising more than $43 million from the San Antonio community,” President Henrich said. “The Reeds, and each of our important contributors, are helping the Biggs Institute to become one of America’s most comprehensive centers in advancing Alzheimer’s care, education and research.”
Sudha Seshadri, M.D., professor of neurology and founding director of the Biggs Institute, said the Reeds’ gift will be used to establish a pilot program known as the Bill and Rebecca Reed Center for Precision Therapies and Palliative Care in Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases. This program will serve persons with dementia and their caregivers at the Biggs Institute in order to foster innovative care approaches that are most effective for each individual patient.
“We proposed this pilot project to better understand the causes of dementia, especially in Hispanic families,” Dr. Seshadri said. “We will recruit and study 100 large families in South Texas in great detail, including very thorough genetic, clinical, imaging and other testing.
“This entails not just making a diagnosis for them, but studying how exactly the disease behaves in these persons, including why some have milder disease,” Dr. Seshadri continued. “Based on these data, we will make and study models of each person’s disease in the lab. We believe this richer insight will lead to new discoveries within two to five years and will exponentially increase the number of persons in whom the disease can be prevented, slowed or reversed.”
There is an increased burden of dementia in Hispanic/Latino communities. Two in five Texans are Hispanic/Latino, and Hispanics/Latinos are about 1½ times as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older whites, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Philanthropists such as Bill and Rebecca Reed give researchers the support to find answers to many questions, including why dementias disproportionately impact Hispanics/Latinos.
“The Reeds hope that their gift will inspire others to get involved in improving the outlook of patients and families who will face dementia,” President Henrich said. “They are deeply dedicated to the mission of innovative discovery and global impact in Alzheimer’s and neurodegenerative disease research.”
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