UW Today

December 23, 2013

UW Medicine Memory and Brain Wellness Center opens at Harborview

“Dementia is the national and global health crisis of the 21st century,” said Dr. Tony Avellino,UW  professor of neurological surgery and director of the UW Medicine Neurosciences Institute.

According to the World Health Organization and Alzheimer’s Disease International, the annual costs worldwide associated with dementia totaled $604 billion in 2010. A new case is diagnosed every four seconds.

In the United States, the toll of dementia as a chronic disease is increasing with the aging of the baby boomers. Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death and Parkinson’s disease is not far behind (No. 14). The toll is also great for the 15 million caregivers who spend an average of 21.9 hours weekly caring for family members.

In October, the UW Medicine Memory and Brain Wellness Center opened at Harborview. The Center is the result of four years of planning. It provides expert diagnosis of neurodegenerative disorders causing memory loss and dementia, tailors and supports best management, and will link state-of-the-art clinical evaluation and care with research programs in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, latent degenerative disease detection and treatment, and care delivery.

The Center¹s director, Dr. Thomas Grabowski, UW professor of radiology and neurology, said  that its mission is to “advance the day when threats to memory and brain health are detected and prevented as standard of care.”

Avellino added that this is an “opportunity of a lifetime” to develop an innovative model of care that improves the health of people around the world.

As part of the Neurosciences Institute, this multidisciplinary center will link clinical evaluation and care with research programs in Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. It builds on UW Medicine’s expertise in neuroimaging (MR, SPECT, PET/CT) and biomarker translational research. UW Medicine is one of only two sites in the country with an National Institutes of Health-funded Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and Morris K. Udall Center of Excellence in Parkinson’s Disease Research, and a longitudinal Adult Changes in Thought study. conducted in partnership with Group Health Research Institute

A colorized lateral view of the brain

A colorized lateral view of the brainNIMH

“Diseases of the brain, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, can affect the body and mind in different ways,” said Dr. Thomas Montine, UW professor and chair of pathology. “By accelerating research and conducting clinical trials, UW Medicine is seizing the opportunity to be a global leader for discovering better strategies to prevent, diagnose and treat these diseases.” Montine  directs the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and the Morris K. Udall Center of Excellence in Parkinson’s Disease Research

In support of healthcare reform, another objective will be to control the spiraling costs associated with dementia.

“UW Medicine’s Behavioral Health Integration Program,” said Dr. Richard Veith, UW professor and chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, “provides a model for leveraging the expertise of scarce mental health specialists to increase access to treatment for common mental health problems in community and primary care settings. Our studies show excellent patient and practitioner satisfaction, superb treatment outcomes, and cost savings.”

He added, “We plan to apply the same approach to treating dementia by supporting a community-based delivery system that is patient-centered, population-based, measurement-based and evidence-based.”

The clinic manager is Tracy Boyd.

The Memory and Brain Wellness Center is located at Harborview in the Senior Care Clinic. Expansion plans include moving to the Ninth & Jefferson Building and offering clinic services five days a week in 2014.