LAWRENCE — Several Kansas City-area community members have made a combined gift commitment of $1.4 million to the University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Center to enable it to expand its research and double its capacity for clinical trials.
The gifts will enable the KU center and its partner, the Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation, to collaborate to prevent and cure the disease, which leads to the death of more than 93,000 people every year in the U.S. KU is one of only 31 Alzheimer’s centers to achieve designation by the National Institute of Health’s Institute on Aging.
Donors are The Gary Dickinson Family Foundation of Kansas City, Missouri; John and Marny Sherman of Kansas City, Missouri, and Bradley and Elizabeth Bergman of Overland Park.
Two Kansas City-area civic leaders were instrumental in connecting the donors to the program: Janice Kreamer, chair of the board of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri, and Richard Bond, former Kansas Senate president and a KU alumnus.
Dr. Jeffrey Burns, co-director of the KU Alzheimer’s Disease Center, believes a cure is achievable and that it will come through a clinical trial; however, clinical trials are expensive, requiring a coordinated team of experts, and slowed significantly by the time it takes to find the volunteers to participate in the trials.
“Because of the generosity of our community of donors, we are moving more quickly to a cure for those with the disease and to the day when we can detect the disease years before the first memory symptoms arise and work to stop it before it even starts,” Burns said. “We are grateful for our community’s commitment to the fight against Alzheimer’s disease and also to Jan Kreamer and Dick Bond for their leadership and belief in the success of the program.”
Bradley Bergman and his wife, Elizabeth, are civic leaders in the Kansas City area. Bradley Bergman serves on several boards and is chairman and CEO of Midwest Trust and FCI Advisors, which provide trust services, investment management and retirement planning.
The Gary Dickinson Family Charitable Foundation, founded by Ann Dickinson and her family, honors Gary Dickinson, founder of Dickinson Financial Corporation, a local family-owned financial institution. The foundation supports a wide range of causes in the region, with a focus on capital campaigns in the greater downtown Kansas City area. Ann, her family and the foundation board became passionate about this initiative because it embodies the entrepreneurial spirit represented by Gary, and it brings national attention to Kansas City as a premier and innovative brain research center.
Entrepreneur John Sherman founded and developed two businesses in Kansas City: LPG Services Group and Inergy LP. He and his wife, Marny, are noted philanthropists in the Kansas City area, primarily focused on K-12 education.
The collaboration of the KU Alzheimer’s Center and the Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation has the goal of shortening the time it takes to complete clinical trials as well as increasing the number of patients participating in the trials. By working together, the two organizations will be able to add expertise within the KU center’s existing clinical trial unit and patient recruitment program. Initiatives also include setting up a physician alliance program that links neurologists and primary care physicians with Alzheimer’s care resources as well as providing caregiver support and education for patients and families.
The gifts, made through KU Endowment, move the KU center closer to its goal of $2.1 million to fully fund these initiatives. Fundraising for the initiatives is ongoing.
KU Endowment is the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.