Nuns help researchers discover more about Alzhimer's

Uploaded by UofMAHC on 11.01.2010

Narrator: More then two decades, about 700 sisters from the United States providences
of the School Sisters of Notre dame or SSND have contributed their boys and brains to
science. The research is simply called the Nun study; it is now a key in sighting answers
to the puzzles of Alzheimer’s and other aging brain disorders that commonly impact
the elderly.
Harry Orr: When David Snowden started this study, he started it here at the University
of Minnesota with the Sisters of Notre Dame focusing on initially on a Mankato group.
Narrator: In 1990, 4 years after starting the study Snowden moved the research to the
University of Kentucky when he took a job there. Now the study will return to its home
base in Minnesota. Since it left the study expanded to five SSND branches through out
the United States.
Sister Catherine: I think it continues to be a wonderful thing for the sisters to be
involved in and they are really proud of their accomplishments and being willing to be apart
of this, because its just not a matter of donating your brain its also a matter of going
through regular testing.
Narrator: The nuns are an ideal group to study because their homogenous and their active
life style. In fact many are involved in education and service well into their 90’s. This is
attractive to researchers because it minimizes many lifestyle factors.
Harry: David and many other investigators have done a great job for example demonstrating
the importance of early childhood education and predicting susceptibility to Alzheimer’s
as well as an active lifestyle, in terms of minimizing risk for Alzheimer’s. So it has
made some major contributions and we had to understand various risk factors to Alzheimer’s.
Narrator: The extraordinary findings have made big waves in the scientific community
and media. A book was authored about the sister’s involvements in the research called Aging
with Grace and the study even landed on the cover of Time Magazine.
Harry: The original nun study was state of the art 25 years ago, and we want to develop
a nun program that is state of the art of 2012 or 2013.
Narrator: An interdisciplinary approach researchers shown departments such as laboratory medicine
and pathology, psychiatry, neurology, pediatrics, and the School of Public Health will all be
involved in the nun study.
Sister Catherine: I was so impressed by the deep desire I saw reflected in the folk that
we met at the “U” who really support and encourage and build on each others areas of
Narrator: There’s plenty of new research in store, pediatric researchers will further
study the notion, that early childhood influences can be linked to brain disorders later in
life. You will also have a group looking at genetics to find out who may be most at risk
for developing Alzheimer’s.
Harry: Well we have two major goals in the next to years. One is to continue with nun
study one is what we are calling it. Finish off the assessments and the analysis of the
remaining sisters that are apart of the original group. What we would really like to do is
to expand the study and enroll additional sisters who are still apart of the Sisters
of Notre Dame into a second study.
Sister Catherine: So we see the U and listening to what they most desire to be about and looking
at what we as School Sisters of Notre Dame and what we most want to be about, those go
hand in hand. And we are looking at a along and happy relationship.