Aging Mind Foundation awards $700,000 for Alzheimer’s research

Laree Hulshoff, Founder of Aging Mind Foundation, and Dr. Marc Diamond

By Sharon Reynolds

The Aging Mind Foundation has awarded $700,000 to the Center for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases, part of the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute at UT Southwestern, to help scientists develop new ways to diagnose and treat Alzheimer’s disease in its earliest stages.

“As the population ages, the cost of Alzheimer’s disease will have a negative ripple effect on the elderly population, their families, communities, and our nation as a whole,” said Cara Owens, member of the Aging Mind Foundation Board of Directors. “Despite the fact that it is one of the most costly diseases in the nation, Alzheimer’s research receives less National Institutes of Health research funding than many other deadly diseases. With this gift, we hope to move the needle forward in discovery of its cause and to slow, if not halt, advance of the disease.”

The Foundation was co-founded in 2014 by Laree Hulshoff and the late Bill Booziotis. Their passion was fueled after watching close friends suffer and succumb to the toll of Alzheimer’s while caregivers and families struggled to cope. To date, the Foundation has funded more than $2 million for high-quality brain research in North Texas.

Dr. Marc Diamond, founding Director of the Center, along with his team of scientists are investigating the root causes of neurodegeneration, a progressive deterioration of the nervous system that can lead to cognitive disability and dementia. Their tau protein research is moving them closer to an answer.

“Alzheimer’s disease is among more than 25 different neurodegenerative conditions that are all linked to accumulation of the tau protein in the brain,” Dr. Diamond said. “We learned that cells of the body actively replicate the tau protein and allow the disease to progress. We believe that understanding this process will hold the key to developing precise interventions to stop disease, and even diagnose it before patients are aware there is a problem.”

“Dr. Diamond’s tau research holds exciting promise for improving our ability to identify and treat neurodegerative diseases at a much earlier stage in the process,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern. “The Aging Mind Foundation is supporting discovery that could revolutionize patient care, lessen the burden on caregivers, and provide a longer and better quality of life for countless patients.”

The growing cost of Alzheimer’s and dementia

Neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s, are strongly linked with aging, and there is currently no way to prevent, cure, or even slow disease progression. In the U.S.:

  • Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death.
  • 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. By 2050, this number is projected to rise to nearly 14 million.
  • More than 16 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
  • These caregivers provided an estimated 18.5 billion hours of care valued at nearly $234 billion.
  • In 2019, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the nation $290 billion. By 2050, these costs could rise as high as $1.1 trillion.

Source: Alzheimer’s Association


Dr. Diamond, a Professor of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics and Neuroscience, holds the Distinguished Chair in Basic Brain Injury and Repair.

Dr. Podolsky holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration, and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.