In First Lecture in ‘Dementia: A Global Challenge’ Series, South Korean Speaker to Focus on Vascular Cognitive Impairment, Nov. 20

An international authority on neurological aspects of dementia will kick off the fall “Dementia: A Global Challenge” lecture series at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson on Friday, Nov. 20. Hosted by the UA Department of Neurology and co-sponsored by the UA Center on Aging, Duk L. Na, MD, will speak from 8 - 9 a.m. in Room 5403, 1501 N. Campbell Ave., on the topic of “Subcortical Vascular Cognitive Impairment.”

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), vascular cognitive impairment and vascular dementia are caused by injuries to the vessels supplying blood to the brain resulting in multiple strokes. Even when individuals have suffered only small strokes, dementia risk can be significant. Cognitive symptoms can begin suddenly and progress during one’s lifetime.

Dr. Na is a professor of neurology at Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine and director of the Neuroscience Center at Samsung Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea. He has published more than 200 papers on dementia and cognitive neurology in international peer-reviewed journals. He is a member of the American Academy of Neurology, on the editorial board of the Korean Neurological Association and president of the Korean Dementia Society.

Dr. Irena RektorováDr. Na’s most recent paper, published in the September issue of Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions, involves a Phase 1 clinical trial studying “Stereotactic brain injection of human umbilical cord blood mesenchymal stem cells in patients with Alzheimer's disease dementia.” It concludes such injections are “feasible, safe and well tolerated,” paving the way for additional cell therapy studies to determine if the injections provide clinical benefits by slowing or reversing the progression of Alzheimer’s symptoms.

The “Dementia: A Global Challenge” lectures are a cooperative series sponsored by the UA Center on Aging, Arizona Geriatric Education Center, Healthy Brain Research Network (an initiative of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), UA Department of Neurology and Southern Arizona VA Health Care System. Funding was provided by the UA Center on Aging and Arizona Geriatrics Education Center. Both centers are affiliated with the UA Division of Geriatrics, General Internal Medicine and Palliative Medicine, which is part of the UA Department of Medicine.

Dr. Richard J. CasselliOther upcoming speakers in the lecture series include:

  • Irena Rektorová, MD, PhD, associate professor of neurology at Masaryk University and head of the Centre for Cognitive Impairment and Dementia at St. Anne’s Teaching Hospital, and the Applied Neuroscience Research Group, Central European Institute of Technology, in Brno, Czech Republic.
    Date: Friday, Jan. 22, 2016
    Topic: “Parkinson’s Disease and Lewy Body Dementia”
  • Richard J. Caselli, MD, professor of neurology at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale and director of the Clinical Core of the Arizona Alzheimer's Disease Core Center research project, funded by NIH.
    Date: Friday, March 18, 2016
    Topic: “Preclinical Alzheimer’s Disease”
  • Dr. Eric M. ReimanEric M. Reiman, MD, UA professor of psychiatry; executive director, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute; CEO, Banner Research; clinical director of the Neurogenomics Division at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen); and director of the Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium
    Date: Friday, June 3, 2016

Topic: “Prevention Trials for Alzheimer’s Disease”

As this lecture series coincides with UA Neurosciences Grand Rounds, they will be available for viewing livestreamed or archived afterward at this link. Each lecture will occur in Room 5403 of the UA College of Medicine – Tucson from 8 to 9 a.m. They are open to the public.

The series is facilitated by Steven Z. Rapcsak, MD, a UA professor of neurology, psychology, and speech, language and hearing sciences. Dr. Rapcsak has specialty training in behavioral neurology and cognitive neuroscience. His research interests include Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, disorders of spoken and written language, memory and executive function.

Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are among the biggest global public-health challenges. More than 45 million people live with dementia worldwide, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International. This number will double by 2030 and triple by 2050, to more than 130 million people. Worldwide costs to care for dementia are estimated at about $818 billion in 2015, nearly 1.09 percent of the world’s gross domestic product.

“The consequences of cognitive impairment, the toll on families and caregivers, and the decrements in quality of life of those directly and indirectly affected is enormous,” Dr. Rapcsak said. “This series will help us better understand and address these burdens.”