Markesbery Symposium Presents Latest Research on Aging and Dementia

More than 450 scientists, researchers and laypeople converged on Lexington last week for the fourth annual Markesbery Symposium on Aging and Dementia, hosted by the University of Kentucky's Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.

The two-day program offered sessions for both scientific and community audiences to share current findings, trends and the latest updates on dementia and aging disorders, particularly Alzheimer's disease.

The scientific session and poster presentations were held on Friday, Nov. 21, at the UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital. This session featured speakers William E. Van Nostrand, Ph.D., of Stony Brook University, and Dr. Steven M. Greenberg of Harvard University. Four faculty members from the UK Sanders-Brown Center on Aging: Anika Hartz, Ph.D.; Ai-Ling Lin, Ph.D.; Paul Murphy, Ph.D.; and Donna Wilcock, Ph.D., also provided updates on research at Sanders-Brown.

The community session on Saturday, Nov. 22, was designed for a lay audience. The featured speaker was Roberta Diaz Brinton, Ph.D., of the University of Southern California. At USC, Brinton explores the neurobiology of the aging female brain and its vulnerability to Alzheimer’s disease.

"Women represent 68 percent of all people living with Alzheimer’s disease," Brinton said. "So if we are to stem the tide of the Alzheimer’s epidemic, it makes sense to determine whether there are features unique to women that make them inherently more vulnerable to developing the disease."

Frederick Schmitt, Ph.D., moderated a panel of Sanders-Brown faculty members who are experts on the clinical and cellular aspects of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Dr. Ronan Murphy, Chris Norris, Ph.D., Dr. Peter Nelson and Elizabeth Head, Ph.D., also answered questions from the audience on memory and brain health issues.

Saturday concluded with a luncheon celebrating The William R. Markesbery Senior Stars and the David R. Wekstein Centenarians. The awards honor individuals who are more than 80 (Senior Stars) or 100 (Centenarians) years of age who exemplify graceful aging and serve as an inspiration to others to remain engaged in life and the pursuit of personal goals.

The Senior Star Awards winners were: Bettye Arvin, Elexine Cox, Mary Jo Holland, Willard and Lucy Kinzer, Carl Smith, Kathryn Stephens, and Jesse Weaver.

The Centenarian Awards winners were: Elizabeth Davies, Robert Lam, and Chester Wilson.

To see photos of the luncheon, go to

The Markesbery Symposium was established to improve awareness of and education about Alzheimer’s disease and the latest research on it and other age-related dementias. It is named in honor of the founding director of the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging and an internationally renowned expert on aging and dementia, Dr. William R. Markesbery.