UCSD Plays a Role in New HBO Documentary Film on Alzheimer's Disease
Debra Kain | May 11, 2009
Alzheimer’s disease is the second most feared disease in America, after cancer. It touches the lives of 54 percent of us. There is no cure. So begins Part 3 of an unprecedented and compelling story of scientific discovery and of the human faces behind the disease.
Dr. Paul Aisen of the UC San Diego School of Medicine was interviewed for "The Alzheimer's Project."
More than two years ago, HBO Films set out to change the way America thinks about Alzheimer's. The result is “The Alzheimer’s Project,” which includes a four-part documentary series, 15 short supplemental films and nationwide outreach campaign. Co-sponsored by the National Institutes on Aging, the project includes UC San Diego School of Medicine’s Dr. Paul Aisen and Dr. Edward Koo, both professors of neuroscience, who were interviewed when HBO producers John Hoffman, Susan Froemke and a six-person film crew visited UC San Diego in May 2008. The filming at UCSD took place over a two-day period, exactly one year prior to last Tuesday’s premiere of the third film of the documentary, titled “Momentum in Science.”
More than 350 people attended the May 5 event, co-sponsored by the Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, and held at The Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla. A reception was followed by the premiere screening of “Momentum in Science,” which features Aisen, director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study, discussing the importance of clinical trials in advancing the search for a cure or treatment for Alzheimer’s. This two-hour, two-part documentary (airing on HBO May 11 and 12) takes viewers inside the laboratories and clinics of 25 of the country’s leading scientists and physicians. Researchers tell about their efforts to discover what can be done to better diagnose Alzheimer’s, delay the onset of memory loss and ultimately prevent Alzheimer’s disease altogether, while real-life patients and their families describe the heartbreak and hope they feel. The screening was followed by a panel discussion with Aisen, Carl Cotman, professor of neurobiology at UC Irvine, and Dr. James Brewer and David Salmon, PhD, from UC San Diego’s department of neurosciences.
Scientific research — including important work going on at UCSD’s Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and the NIA-funded Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study, based at UCSD — is gaining momentum in discovering ways to treat and possibly prevent the disease. “The Alzheimer’s Project” began airing on HBO on May 10 and can also be viewed on HBO On Demand, HBO Podcasts, hbo.com, HBO Channel on YouTube, as well as on DVD. The first of the four documentaries is “The Memory Loss Tapes,” which provides an up-close and personal look at seven individuals living with Alzheimer’s, across the full spectrum of the progression of the disease. “Grandpa, Do You Know Who I Am?” with Maria Shriver" (May 11) captures what it means to be a child or grandchild of one with Alzheimer's, while “Caregivers” (May 12) highlights the sacrifices and successes of people who experience their loved one’s descent into dementia.
All films will stream free of charge on http://www.hbo.com/alzheimers/. A 15-minute interview with Dr. Aisen called “The Pulse of Drug Development” is part of the on-line supplementary series on this site. A trailer on the Alzheimer's Project can can be viewed here.
As one woman remarked after viewing the series, “I am glad that this project is showing that, while a loved one with Alzheimer’s may no longer remember you, theirs remains a life not to be forgotten.”