Wake Forest Baptist Receives $3.47 Million to Support Work in Aging, Alzheimer’s Disease

August 13, 2015

Three donors have provided gifts totaling nearly $3.5 million to advance education, patient care and research in aging and Alzheimer’s disease at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

The donors and their gifts, which total $3.47 million and were received during the past 12 months, include:

  • From donors who wish to remain anonymous, two gifts totaling $1.3 million to support programs at the J. Paul Sticht Center on Aging and Rehabilitation to educate, recruit, retain and train geriatricians
  • The Paul and Ferne Sticht Foundation of Charlotte, $1.17 million to endow geriatric research and clinical care, and
  • The Hartman Foundation of Austin, Texas, $1 million made as a challenge grant to support Alzheimer’s disease research.

“We are deeply grateful for the commitment represented by each of these gifts,” said Norman D. Potter, Wake Forest Baptist’s vice president of development and alumni affairs. “Individually, the stated purpose of each one directly addresses the mission of our Medical Center, to improve health. Collectively these gifts, along with gifts of all amounts that we receive, are essential to our continuing success as a leading academic medical center.”

Funds devoted to education and training initiatives will support programs such as Geriatrics Principles for Specialists. The program teaches chief residents and fellows from other disciplines about general principles of geriatric medicine and how to apply those principles to patients in their specialties.

During the weekend-long program, each resident or fellow is given several bottles filled with placebo pills and a strict regimen of what pills to take when. The exercise helps doctors understand some of the challenges faced by older adults.

“At least 40 percent of patients in almost any specialty will be over 65,” said Hal Atkinson, M.D., director of the program, which was created with philanthropic support. “Our goal is to 'gerontologize' as many physicians as possible.”

Funds devoted to patient care and research initiatives will advance Wake Forest Baptist’s Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine program, which focuses on helping older adults maintain their health and independence. One of the nation’s first geriatrics-focused facilities, the Sticht Center offers leading-edge clinical and research programs to patients and brings together more than 90 faculty members from 20 departments, institutes and centers.

The gifts also will support specific research initiatives in Alzheimer’s and dementia, including work led by Suzanne Craft, Ph.D., director of the Alzheimer’s program at Wake Forest Baptist. Craft’s recent research has examined abnormal shifts in brain metabolism that occur at the very earliest stages of Alzheimer’s and whether these shifts can be corrected with medication or lifestyle interventions. The Hartman Foundation challenge grant will support her research and provide a 1:1 match for all funds that are raised up to $1 million.

Media Relations

Mac Ingraham: mingraha@wakehealth.edu, 336-716-3487

Shannon Putnam: news@wakehealth.edu, 336-713-4587