Western University Be Extraordinary The Campaign For Western

A unique partnership

by Adela Talbot, BA’08, MA’11 | June 26, 2018

Allison Dilliott, ASLM Masters Scholarship 2017-2018 recipient
Biochemistry master’s candidate Allison Dilliott is the 2017-2018 recipient of the ASLM Masters Scholarship in Alzheimer-Related Research

It’s a robust partnership – one that continues to flourish after more than a decade of research and service.

Western has played an important role in the evolution of the Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex (ASLM), and together, the two have established strong ties that continue to foster support and understanding of Alzheimer’s in the community.

Recently, a gift of $160,000 from ASLM bolstered Western’s already robust student awards and research. This gift represents the renewal of the ASLM foundation’s Premier Research Grant, which is awarded on a competitive basis to faculty members across campus engaged in research on Alzheimer’s and related dementias, in areas from biomedical based research to social aspects of the disease. The gift also funds scholarships for master’s and doctoral students in any faculty engaged in related research.

“We are excited to be in the position to invest in research at Western by providing research opportunities to both established scientists, as well as master’s and doctoral student researchers. It is our intent through this program to promote innovation and exploration by opening these opportunities up to all faculties, and with limited restrictions – other than the research needs to relate to Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias,” said Carol Walters, ASLM’s CEO.

“We’re proud to support our well-established local research community in this way and believe our dementia community both locally and globally will benefit from research completed through this program.”

Over the years, and particularly since its move from south London to Windermere Road about a decade ago, ASLM has partnered with and supported researchers at Western, offering funding, outreach and volunteer opportunities to members of the campus community working to understand dementia.

To date, ASLM’s foundation has given more than $1 million to Western in support of Alzheimer’s and dementia-related research. Shortly after the foundation was established, part of its mandate emerged as one of research support.

Originally named the Fish Award (after one of the bequests), ASLM’s Premier Research Grant, valued at $100,000 over two years, supports research, personnel and infrastructure for Alzheimer’s research at Western. The inaugural recipient was Clinical Neurological Sciences professor Elizabeth Finger, who is studying the effectiveness of oxytocin, a hormone and neuropeptide in the brain shown to play an important role in social behaviour and empathy, as a possible treatment for patients with frontotemporal dementia.

With early support from ASLM’s research grant, Finger’s work is now in clinical trials.

Through its foundation, ASLM also supports graduate students working on Alzheimer’s and dementia-related research, offering two $15,000 scholarships to students at the master’s level and another $30,000 scholarship over two years to a student pursuing related doctoral research.

But the partnership between Western and ASLM goes far beyond research funding. It boils down to an established network of diverse individuals working together towards the same goal – understanding Alzheimer’s and dementia, and supporting those living with it within our community, Walters explained.

The broad spectrum of social and recreational programming offered through ASLM to clients in the community is largely staffed by Western students, some who give days, months and years of their time.

At the governance level, a connection with Western has always existed. ALSM and its foundation are overseen by boards that include Western researchers and faculty, ensuring both entities align to best tackle the unknowns of dementia and best support those living with it.

Walters is looking to strengthen the society’s partnership with Western by first defining the system of dementia services available in the community and working to fill gaps that emerge.

“I’m hoping to form new partnerships with Western from an analytics perspective. We need to start to understand what the area looks like and look for outcome-based information. We provide good programs and services but we need to understand how that is trickling down and supporting the broader health-care system and serving our clients,” Walters said.

“If we become more proactive in the region, not just the society, it should have a more positive effect on health-care costs, and the number of people needing space in long-term care homes should go down. Continued research is an imperative for that,” she continued.

“These are exciting times from a research perspective as it relates to dementia. There is a lot of new information coming out that is positive for individuals being able to be more proactive for their self-care.”

To donate to Alzheimer’s research at Western, please contact Carole Stinson, Executive Director, Development Programs, at 519.661.2111 x85696 or cstinson@uwo.ca

For more information on Alzheimer’s research at Western, visit: extraordinary.westernu.ca/alzheimers/


This article appeared in the Summer 2018 edition of Impact Western
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