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Marian S. Ware: $6 Million Gift for Alzheimer's Program

The Marian S. Ware Alzheimer Program has been established at Penn Medicine with a $6 million gift from Marian S. Ware, a long-time supporter of the University and advocate for progress in medical research and treatment for Alzheimer's disease. The Alzheimer Program will comprise a set of collaborative initiatives between Penn Medicine and the School of Nursing to advance drug discovery, clinical research, and patient care related to Alzheimer's disease.

"Bringing our strengths together in new ways is a major focus of our strategic planning at Penn Medicine," said David L. Cohen, chair of the Penn Medicine board. "This generous gift exemplifies this goal, and is a powerful demonstration of confidence in this institution's current and future role in improving the human condition in our community and well beyond. We are proud to have the generous support of the Ware family, which is one of the most charitable families in our Commonwealth."

The Marian S. Ware Alzheimer Program will uphold a three-part mission: drug discovery, identifying and evaluating novel therapeutics; clinical research, particularly in developing and testing biomarkers to identify patients with Alzheimer's disease; and patient care, formulating best practice models that coordinate the complex care needs of patients and their family members.

"With our aged population projected to expand dramatically in the coming years, and with Alzheimer's disease research showing great potential, now is the time to focus increased resources and energies on uncovering the mysteries of this devastating disease and offering new hope to its patients and their loved ones," said Dr. Arthur H. Rubenstein, EVP of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System and Dean of the School of Medicine. "The timely and extraordinarily generous gift from Marian S. Ware will be invaluable to advancing Penn's contributions to several realms of this vital work."

The Marian S. Ware Alzheimer Program will build on the recognized expertise and research strengths at Penn's Alzheimer's Disease Center, the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, and collaborating faculty and centers within the Schools of Medicine and Nursing.

In the last decade, Penn researchers have identified potential targets of therapy for Alzheimer's disease. The drug discovery component of the program will capitalize on these recent discoveries by attempting to identify novel compounds that may prevent or ameliorate the onset or progression of Alzheimer's disease. This work will be led by Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research Director Dr. Virginia M.-Y. Lee, the John H. Ware 3rd Professor in Alzheimer's Research, and co-director Dr. John Q. Trojanowski, the William Maul Measey--Dr. Truman G. Schnabel Jr., Professor of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology and Director of the Institute on Aging. (Both Drs. Lee and Trojanowski are professors in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the School of Medicine.)

The clinical research initiative addresses another goal within the Alzheimer's disease medical community: developing a reliable, easily administered, and safe test to both detect Alzheimer's disease pathology and measure changes in disease progression. The assay would facilitate clinical research and improve a physician's ability to identify patients with Alzheimer's disease who might benefit from treatment. This work will be led by Dr. Christopher M. Clark, Department of Neurology, and Dr. Jason H. Karlawish, Department of Medicine: Division of Geriatrics of Penn's Alzheimer's Disease Center Memory Disorders Clinic.

The third main piece of the Program focuses on developing a comprehensive, coordinated, and cost-effective model of care management for Alzheimer's patients, who often have multiple chronic illnesses and must navigate through an intricate, disjointed health care system. A recently completed pilot study, led by Dr. Mary D. Naylor, the Marian S. Ware Professor in Gerontology at the School of Nursing, and funded by the Alzheimer's Association, demonstrated the potential of an innovative, evidence-based model of care management for high-risk elders and their caregivers, one implemented by advanced practice nurses in collaboration with patients' physicians and other health team members. Through the Program, Dr. Naylor will lead the implementation and evaluation of this Care Coordination Model to patients within UPHS.

"Managing the progression of Alzheimer's in patients and providing nursing support for them and their family members is ultimately as critical as managing the disease itself. In order to best care for Alzheimer's patients, we must be continuously working to develop, test, and apply cutting-edge models of care management. Mrs. Ware's decision to comprehensively address the many facets of Alzheimer's disease shows extraordinary vision," said Dr. Afaf Meleis, Dean of the School of Nursing.

Marian S. Ware was born in Titusville, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Swarthmore College in 1938. In 1947, she co-founded the Oxford Foundation with her husband, John H. Ware 3rd, U.S. Congressman, University trustee, and chairman of the board of the company now known as American Water, in Voorhees, NJ. Mr. Ware passed away in 1997. They raised four children; their daughter Marilyn Ware is a Penn Medicine Trustee, and daughter Carol Ware Gates serves on the Board of Overseers of the School of Nursing. Marian S. Ware and the Oxford Foundation established the John H. Ware 3rd Professorship in Alzheimer's Research at Penn in 1999. The Marian S. Ware Alzheimer Program marks a new dimension in her long-standing commitments to Alzheimer's disease research and treatment and to Penn. Mrs. Ware is currently Chair Emeritus of the Oxford Foundation.



Almanac, Vol. 50, No. 20, February 3, 2004