Advocate recognizes Alzheimer's patients, care partners

  • Advocate patients and their caregivers pose for a photo with key members of the Memory Center team.

    Advocate patients and their caregivers pose for a photo with key members of the Memory Center team. Courtesy of Jaimie Oh

Updated 6/25/2019 9:37 AM

With support from the nonprofit Global Alzheimer's Platform Foundation, Advocate Lutheran General Hospital and Advocate Research Institute recently honored patients with Alzheimer's disease and their care partners who have participated in Alzheimer's disease research at the Advocate Memory Center.

This local ceremony is part of the inaugural Citizen Scientist Awards® Program, the first national awards program honoring Alzheimer's disease clinical trial participants.


More than 5.7 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's disease. While there currently is no cure for Alzheimer's, clinical trials are underway with the goal of working toward improved treatment and a potential cure for this disease.

The Citizen Scientist Awards® Program is part of the Global Alzheimer's Platform Foundation, an organization dedicated to advancing Alzheimer's research and clinical trials.

"Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia that progressively diminishes memory and other brain functions over time," says Dr. Darren Gitelman, senior medical director of the Advocate Memory Center at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital.

"The current treatment options are very limited, and none affect the progression of Alzheimer's, so research is the key to unlocking a cure."

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This year's inaugural Citizen Scientist Award® event acknowledged all research participants at the Advocate Memory Center, and also specifically recognized six patients and their care partners with Citizen Scientist Awards® for their participation and interest in research. One of the trial participant and caregiver pairs who were recognized are Margaret and Mark Zumdahl.

"I watched my grandfather and mother with this disease, and now, as an Alzheimer's patient myself, I'm willing to be involved with any research that will help hone in on a cure. How else are we going to find it without the research?" says Margaret, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2016. "Being part of a clinical trial, it gave me a sense of purpose."

Mark, Margaret's spouse and caregiver, shared the sentiment.

"Margaret has the attitude and is willing to do what she needs to help eradicate this disease. We both are willing to help in any way possible to advance Alzheimer's research," he says.

The Zumdahls add that their participation in a clinical trial also came easily due to the experience they had working with Dr. Gitelman and his team at Advocate Lutheran General.


"The team is so personally invested and go above and beyond for us. When we were invited to the Citizen Scientists Awards ceremony, I felt really humbled. I think (Dr. Gitelman and his team) are the stars," Margaret says.

The Advocate Memory Center at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital is staffed by a team of experts with highly specialized skills in treating and managing patients with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

The center's program offerings include clinical exams and assessments to tailor care plans unique to each individual based on their diagnosis and the progression of their disease.

In addition to diagnosis and treatment, the Advocate Memory Center offers wraparound support through social work and counseling, as well as support groups for patients and caregivers alike.

"Clinical trials research is critically important to our mission of helping people live well. By partnering with our patients and their care partners to advance this important research, we hope to improve outcomes and quality of life for current and future patients," Dr. Gitelman says.

The awards were distributed to the patients and caregivers at a special awards ceremony at Advocate Lutheran General.

After the local awards ceremony, three awardees from among the nominees submitted by all 72 sites participating in the Global Alzheimer's Platform Network will be randomly selected to attend the National Citizen Scientists Awards ceremony at the annual UsAgainstAlzheimer's National Summit in Washington, D.C., later this fall.

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