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MARCH 8, 2006
  Penn Researcher Christopher M. Clark, MD, Selected for National Task Force on Early Stage Alzheimer’s Disease
   

(Philadelphia, PA) – Christopher M. Clark, M.D., Associate Director of the University of Pennsylvania Alzheimer's Disease Center and Director of the Memory Disorders Clinic, has been selected to become a member of the national Alzheimer’s Association Early-Stage Professional Task Force. The task force will focus on the unique challenges facing people with early stage Alzheimer’s disease and help develop recommendations to increase their participation in the leadership and services offered by the Association.

The Professional Task Force will be made up of multi-disciplinary group of health care professionals involved in the diagnosis, treatment, and program services for people with Alzheimer’s, and staff from the national and local chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association. The task force will work closely with its counterpart – the Advisory Group of People with Dementia – which is made up of individuals diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. The two leadership groups met in Chicago for the first time, January 30th and 31st, 2006.

“I am excited to be joining this important initiative of the Alzheimer’s Association,” said Clark. “There are millions of people living with Alzheimer’s now and, as baby boomers continue to age, the prevalence of Alzheimer’s will increase. It’s important to focus on early-stage individuals and to work with those affected by the disease. We need to address their unique needs and find ways to reduce the stigma associated with diagnosis so we can empower and support individuals and their families – now and in the future.”

There are 4.5 million people currently living with Alzheimer’s disease in the United States. By 2025, that number could increase to as much as 6.5 million; and by 2050, that number could range between 11.3 million and 16 million. “It’s important that Alzheimer’s is diagnosed early in its progression to allow individuals and family members to plan for the future,” added Clark.

Early-stage Alzheimer’s is the disease phase at which a careful medical interview can detect clear-cut deficiencies including the decreased knowledge of recent occasions or personal history, and the diminished ability to perform complex tasks – such as planning a dinner party, or paying bills and managing finances.

Clark, a board certified neurologist, is an Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He is also the Associate Director of Penn’s Alzheimer's Disease Center (ADC) and Memory Disorders Clinic, and Director of the recently initiated Center of Excellence for Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases at Penn. He is a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania's Institute on Aging and has been a Penn faculty member since 1989.

Clark has spent most of his career studying Alzheimer's disease. He is the current Principal Investigator of a National Institute of Aging grant, and an investigator for numerous other studies including the landmark Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). His research interests focus on Alzheimer's disease and the development of diagnostically specific markers, the identification and evaluation of new treatments, the development of new instruments to measure rates of change, and studies of the relationship between Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.

Currently, the Alzheimer’s Association is collaborating with four Alzheimer’s disease Research Centers to prepare a grant proposal to measure the effectiveness of early stage programs offered through the Association’s chapter network.

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