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URI Thewlis lecture on gerontology and geriatrics to address Alzheimer’s disease

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

URI biomedical scientist, Roger Williams Medical Center physician to speak March 19

KINGSTON, R.I. – March 10, 2014 – Two leading experts will discuss the most recent science and medical advances related to Alzheimer’s research at the University of Rhode Island’s Malford Thewlis Lecture on Gerontology and Geriatrics to be held Wednesday, March 19 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Nassa Zawia, a URI professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Pharmacy and dean of URI’s Graduate School, will join John Stoukides, chief of the Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine at Roger Williams Medical Center, to discuss “Alzheimer’s Disease: Risk Factors and Prevention from Infancy to Old Age.”

The lecture will be held in Edwards Hall, 64 Upper College Road, Kingston Campus. The speaking program and reception from 6 to 7 p.m. in the lobby of Edwards are free and open to the public.

The focus on Alzheimer’s disease at the Thewlis Lecture comes just four months after Thomas M. Ryan, former chief of CVS Caremark and a 1975 URI College of Pharmacy graduate, and Cathy Ryan made a $15 million donation to URI to establish a neuroscience research institute named in honor of Tom’s parents. Called the George & Anne Ryan Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Rhode Island, one of its areas of emphasis is Alzheimer’s, a disease that robbed George Ryan of his vitality and which took a heavy toll on the Ryan family.

The speakers’ work is closely aligned with the objectives of the Ryan Institute for Neuroscience.

Recent research suggests that Alzheimer’s disease is the result of a combination of genetic, environmental, and personal behavioral factors. The lecture will summarize research that explains how and why the disease develops and what can be done to prevent it in the future. Interesting and intriguing research from infancy to old age will be highlighted.

Zawia also heads the University’s Graduate Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program, and his latest research is on an anti-inflammatory drug used to treat migraines in Europe that is being scheduled for human clinical trials as a treatment for Alzheimer's. In the last nine years with $2 million in federal grant support, he has proven that infant exposure to low levels of lead results in late-age cognitive decline and pathology linked to Alzheimer's disease. According to Zawia, one of the keys to stopping Alzheimer's disease is early detection. "If we can diagnose the illness earlier," he said, "then we might be able to minimize the disease's effects."

Zawia earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts and his master’s from Loma Linda University in California. He earned his doctorate at the University of California, Irvine, and he was a post-doctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health.

Stoukides, a medical doctor and registered pharmacist, is also a clinical associate professor of nursing at URI. He is the principal Investigator of the Rhode Island Mood and Memory Research Institute and a faculty member of the Rhode Island Geriatric Education Center, which is based at URI.

Stoukides earned his bachelor of science in pharmacy from URI in 1989. He received his medical education at Tufts University School of Medicine and did his post-graduate training at Roger Williams Medical Center. Board Certified in Internal Medicine, he serves as clinical assistant professor of medicine at Boston University and Brown University schools of medicine. He is director of Roger Williams Medical Center's geriatric services, medical director of Roger Williams Senior Health Care Associates, and a member of the core faculty of the Rhode Island Geriatric Education Center at URI. In addition, he serves as medical director of three rehabilitation centers and as medical expert, Office of Hearings and Appeals, of the Social Security Administration.

Stoukides holds an honorary Doctor of Science in Geriatrics from URI and has been named Rhode Island Monthly's Best Doctor specializing in geriatrics in Rhode Island Monthly's Biannual Survey seven times.

Parking and Directions: Please call the RIGEC office at 874-5311 for information or assistance with any special needs and visit the website for information. Please notify us of any special needs.

RIGEC is an interdisciplinary consortium of the URI Colleges of Nursing, Pharmacy, and Human Science and Services; the PACE Organization of Rhode Island; the Rhode Island College Schools of Nursing and Social Work; and Roger Williams Medical Center. It is funded at 100 percent through a cooperative agreement with the Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Dr. Malford W. Thewlis, a former resident of Wakefield, was a pioneer in the field of geriatric medicine and one of the founders of the American Geriatrics Society in 1942. Thewlis wrote The Care of the Aged: Geriatrics, which was first published in 1919 under the title, "Geriatrics: A Treatise on the Prevention and Treatment of Diseases of Old Age and the Care of the Aged."

In honor of Dr. Thewlis, URI established the Malford Thewlis Lecture in Gerontology and Geriatrics in 2006. The goal of this annual event is to raise awareness, enhance knowledge, and stimulate discussion about issues related to aging, longevity, and health care for older adults