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RPO receives $100,000 grant to perform for dementia patients

The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra has received a $100,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support free arts programming for individuals with dementia and their caregivers.

The grant was awarded through the foundation’s Public Affairs initiative and will support a pilot care and wellness program for individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease and their care partners. The grant also supports training for the musicians who will work with the individuals.

The 18-month project will encompass 10 ensemble visits to care facilities and 10 open rehearsals through December 2022. Ensemble visits of trios, quartets and quintets will bring RPO musicians out of the concert hall and into senior homes, hospitals and specialized memory care facilities, allowing for more intimate connection in a comfortable environment for the patients and their caregivers.

Open rehearsals will enable individuals with neurodegenerative diseases to enjoy live orchestral music at Kodak Hall. The daytime events will be stress-free for the patients.

The grant allows the RPO to build upon previous efforts and create a regular, expanded slate of accessible programming, officials said. Following the pilot program, the orchestra hopes to expand the initiative to include a broader range of conditions.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Cognivue to join other heavy hitters in Alzheimer’s study

Rochester’s Cognivue Inc. has been selected by the Global Alzheimer’s Platform (GAP) to participate in its pioneering Bio-Hermes clinical trial study. Also participating in the study are Eli Lilly & Co., AbbVie, Merck, the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation and other respected biopharma, technology and nonprofit entities.

Bio Hermes is the first platform study to investigate and compare blood-based biomarkers, digital markers and legacy assessments in 1,000 people over the age of 60 screened for preclinical Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), prodromal AD, or mild dementia AD. The use of biomarkers could lead to earlier and more frequent detection of amyloid build-up, prompting those affected to seek early intervention, including participation in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s prevention or treatment.

“We are excited about the collaboration with the Global Alzheimer’s Project and the opportunity to be part of the groundbreaking Bio-Hermes clinical study. This is the first wide-scale application of Cognivue technology along with state-of-the-art frontline diagnostic tools such as blood-based biomarkers and brain image scanning. This could be a milestone development to create a gold standard for the future of Alzheimer’s Disease assessment and diagnostics,” said Cognivue President and CEO Tom O’Neill. “Our ability to objectively, quantitatively, and reliably identify cognitive status further assist with the accurate diagnosis for potential cognitive impairment, which can then be treated or managed.”

Cognviue’s technologies are designed to give health care providers a useful tool for cognitive evaluation and diagnosis. The digital system is engineered to eliminate bias and variability throughout the test that establishes cognitive baselines and provides a concurrent monitoring vehicle for the evaluation and treatment of cognitive issues over time.

“The Bio-Hermes clinical trial will evaluate the most promising digital and blood biomarker tests, and we’re pleased to have Cognivue as one of our digital assessments for cognitive function,” said John Dwyer, president of the Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation. “This self-administered test could allow medical practices in any community to detect cognitive decline and prompt steps to diagnose Alzheimer’s. In turn, that means patients will be able to make timely decisions about treatment or participation in research.”

Cognivue is a neuroscience company focused on cognitive health with the world’s first FDA-cleared computerized test of cognitive function. The Cognivue device and technology are based on years of research that uses adaptive psychophysics to focus on cortical information processing by testing key cognitive domains.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Alzheimer’s Association offering free education programs

The Alzheimer’s Association has launched a series of virtual statewide Alzheimer’s education programs in an effort to reach more New York families affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Teresa Galbier
Teresa Galbier

“Until the day we find a cure for Alzheimer’s and all other dementia, we will be relentless in our commitment to offering programs like this to raise awareness and offer education about the disease,” said Rochester and Finger Lakes Chapter Executive Teresa Galbier. “We won’t stop until we live in a world without Alzheimer’s.”

Each free program features a special presentation by an expert in their field, as well as a question and answer period where concerns about diagnosis, research, treatment and support may be addressed. More information can be found at

“Across the state, we are only reaching a fraction of those who are impacted by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia,” said Christopher Smith, New York state regional leader for the Alzheimer’s Association. “Along with creating more awareness about the impact of Alzheimer’s and dementia in New York, we hope this series of virtual programs will allow us to bring people together across the state to learn from experts on a variety of topics and ask questions that will empower them to communicate more effectively with loved ones living with dementia as well as manage the challenging behavioral symptoms of the disease.”

The series began on April 1, and continues on April 7 with A Glimpse into the Life of a Younger Caregiver, featuring Jessica Zwerling and Teresa Santos from Montefiore Hudson Valley Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease in Yonkers. Other topics include: Understanding and Responding to Dementia-Related Behaviors; Legal and Financial Planning; and COVID-19 and Caregiving: Finding Hope from What We’ve Learned; among others.

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is a progressive, fatal brain disease. More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, including 410,000 people in New York.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Alzheimer’s Association to hold Symposium March 11

On Thursday, the Alzheimer’s Association’s Rochester & Finger Lakes Chapter will host its 10th annual Dr. Lemuel & Gloria Rogers Health Symposium. The free event will be held virtually from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The health symposium will raise awareness of dementia concerns among the Black community and educate participants about resources available in the Finger Lakes region for both individuals living with the disease and their families and caregivers.

“Alzheimer’s disease impacts so many in our community,” said Chapter Executive Director Teresa Galbier. “That is why we are relentless in our commitment to offering programs like our annual health symposium to raise awareness and offer education about the disease and get one day closer to a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia.”

The symposium will address racial disparities in care, support and treatment, as well as examine barriers to participation in dementia research. Experts will discuss tactics to lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease through healthy living and will confront the challenges of caregiving during the pandemic.

Findings from two national surveys appearing in the Alzheimer’s Association 2021 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report reveal that discrimination is a barrier to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. More than one-third of Black Americans and nearly one-fifth of Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans believe discrimination would be a barrier to receiving Alzheimer’s care. In addition, half or more of non-White caregivers say they have experienced discrimination when navigating health care settings for their care recipient.

Half of Black Americans report they’ve experienced discrimination when seeking health care; more than 4 in 10 Native Americans and one-third of Asian Americans and Hispanic Americans likewise report having experienced health care discrimination.

“Despite ongoing efforts to address health and health care disparities in Alzheimer’s and dementia care, survey results show there is still a lot of work to be done,” said Carl Hill, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer for the national Alzheimer’s Association. “Clearly, discrimination, lack of diversity among health care professionals and mistrust in medical research create significant barriers to care and demand the country’s full attention.”

Hill will give the keynote presentation at Thursday’s event. Prior to joining the association’s Chicago-based national office, he served as director of the Office of Special Populations at the National Institutes on Aging. During his 15 years with the NIA, Hill facilitated studies focused on health disparities and supported initiatives to enhance research targeting underrepresented groups.

Community educator volunteer Stanita Jackson will deliver “Healthy Living for Your Brain and Body.” Jackson earned her doctorate in public health with primary research focused on Alzheimer’s in African Americans, minority health disparities and nutritional health and wellness.

The Alzheimer’s Association’s annual symposium honors Lemuel and Gloria Rogers, a well-respected couple and community leaders who ultimately lost their battles with the disease.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer