UW Initiative to End Alzheimer’s works toward cure

Research also seeking treatments to slow disease

In research labs, work is being done to make the UW Initiative to End Alzheimer’s a realization. For the man who directs that research, finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease is personal. Dr. Sanjay Asthana lost his father to Alzheimer’s.

“I’m absolutely sure that one day, we will get there, and the amount of research that’s going on right here at UW-Madison actually is making some very important contributions,” said Asthana, associate dean of gerontology at UW-Madison.

Right now, 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. Without a cure, it is estimated that number will grow to 13 million by 2050. If that happens, the costs to care for those individuals would exceed $1 trillion, and that would bankrupt Medicare.

The UW Initiative to End Alzheimer’s is conducting research in a number of areas. The group is looking for a cure, but it’s also doing research to find new treatments to slow the progression of the disease and prevent it.

“Together, the initiative physicians, scientists and staff members conduct innovative research aimed at understanding, treating and preventing Alzheimer’s disease, and through clinical and public health approaches, develop new programs to improve care for those afflicted by the disease,” said Jane Mahoney, head of the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute.

Buzz Nordeen understands the impact Alzheimer’s disease has on families as well as anyone. He lost his first wife at the age of 58 after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He later married Kit Saunders Nordeen, only to have her diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 72.

“Medical people and others have told me, you’ve got to remember that is not the person you married and you’ve got a different kind of responsibility now,” Nordeen said. “You accepted that responsibility when you got married, and so you deal with the cards you’ve been dealt.”

As an associate athletic director at UW-Madison, Kit Saunders Nordeen was a pioneer who leveled the playing field for women’s athletics.

At 89, Buzz now visits Kit every day at a memory care facility. He also has pledged to do what he can to help others and find a cure for the disease.

He created the Nora Nordeen and Kit Saunders Nordeen Alzheimer’s Disease Research Fund. Donations can be made online by visiting Allwaysforward.org/alzheimers and click “GIVE NOW.”

To make a gift that benefits the fund, designate your donation to the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute Nora Nordeen and Kit Saunders Nordeen Alzheimer’s Disease Research Fund #112588253 in the drop-down menu. You can also make checks payable to: UWF-WAI Nordeen AD Research Fund 112588253. Donations should be mailed to: Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute, 610 N. Walnut St., 9th floor, Madison, WI, 53726, Attention: Naveena Jaspal.