November 26, 2015

Be Thankful of Effort To Keep Memory Alive

Thanksgiving2015Dear Friends,

As a transplant to America it has been fascinating to learn about the country’s holidays and traditions.

While it has its roots in European harvest festivals, Thanksgiving stands out as “truly American” because of its association with the Pilgrims and their journey in search of freedom that brought them to a harsh New World almost 400 years ago.

The holiday’s modern trappings of family, food, and football make it more fun and colorful, but it remains at its core a day to give thanks. That a busy nation would pause to focus on being grateful for its blessings displays the decency of America’s character and its deep but quiet reverence.

Personally I give thanks for the honor to participate in one of the great struggles of our time — the effort to combat memory-loss disorder. Spending time with incurably ill people and their emotionally wrought families and caregivers might not sound like a recipe for gratitude, but my heart is full of thanks for the small victories and smiles, the hard work and intellectual challenges, and the support of colleagues around the globe.

The recent Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease conference in Spain brought together hundreds of the world’s leading Alzheimer’s disease experts for updates on the latest research and treatments and to encourage each other in our work.

A team of us from the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health had the privilege to present information on our Healthy Brains Initiative, generating extensive discussion on how efforts such as ours can speed the process of enrolling participants into Alzheimer’s prevention clinical trials.

The interest shown and sharp questions asked by our colleagues demonstrated the energy and enthusiasm found in the research community. For that I am thankful, because while the cause of keeping memory alive remains daunting, the effort involving patients, families, volunteers, caregivers, and medical professionals shows humanity at its best.

Give thanks for your cherished memories and make new ones worthy of the grand tradition of this wonderful holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Dr. Kate Zhong

Senior Director of Clinical Research and Development for the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health