I founded the Institute for Dementia Research and Prevention (IDRP) here at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center thanks to the vision of Pennington Biomedical leadership, and seed funds from a small group of supporters. Each of these stakeholders realized that there was a tremendous void in dementia research in the State of Louisiana, and that in addition to a lack of infrastructure, there was very little in way of dementia prevention or treatment programs going on in the State. In a short time the IDRP and its supporters have changed the face of dementia research in the State of Louisiana, and in so doing established the basis for a World Class Dementia Research and Prevention program. Some of the key features of the program include:
The IDRP now has one of the largest longitudinal brain aging studies in the United States with nearly 1,600 participants enrolled from around the State (Louisiana Aging Brain Study), and is making significant advances in identifying the triggers for dementia and falls in the elderly.
The IDRP is now recognized as an emerging leader in studies of mobility, falls, and cognitive decline in the elderly. These efforts are being used to identify targets for exercise, remediation, diet, and pharmaceutical based interventions to prevent falls and dementia in the elderly. We will be expanding upon this in the coming year(s) to find ways to help elderly individuals live longer more independent lives.
For individuals with active dementia, the IDRP has put into place the Jo Lamar Dementia Study (JLDS).
For individuals with mild cognitive impairment and active dementia the IDRP now offers numerous and diverse clinical trial opportunities. These NIH funded and pharmaceutical industry sponsored trials allow individuals in Louisiana to have local access to the most cutting edge interventions and medications for the treatment and prevention of dementia.
The mission of the IDRP is to improve the quality of life for individuals in Louisiana by generating world class research programs focused on dementia prevention, providing local access to the latest clinical trials for the treatment of dementia, and providing educational opportunities for individuals/families affected by dementia. Based on our past success we now have set our sights on a single goal, "To change the face of Alzheimer's disease". Currently a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease is devastating blow for the individual diagnosed, and their family. We intend to change the face of Alzheimer's disease in the very near future by not only continuing to work on prevention strategies, but to also make Alzheimer's disease a manageable disease (much like diabetes or cardiovascular disease). Additionally, we intend to reduce caregiver burnout and falls in individuals with dementia, which are the two leading causes for institutionalization and loss of independence. This is a huge goal, but it will have a huge impact on this devastating disease, and transform the way in which individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their families live and interact following diagnosis. Big change requires big goals, and unrelenting effort.
I have been amazed daily by the outstanding skill and efficiency of the IDRP staff, the dedication of each of our study participants, and the sincerity and devotion of our supporters. I have seen the impact our successes in the tears and thanks we receive from those positively impacted by IDRP efforts, and the ever increasing accrual of our scientific accomplishments. The IDRP family rightfully deserves to be proud of all we have accomplished, and needs to know that TOGETHER WE CAN change the face of Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Jeffrey N. Keller