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New facility to focus on Alzheimer’s

Nicole Maphis, a research assistant at UNM Health Sciences Center, shows an image of an animal brain. Maphis is working on finding a vaccine for Alzheimer’s disease. ROSALIE RAYBURN/JOURNAL

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center officially opened its Memory and Aging Center this week, offering comprehensive clinical and research services for the 43,000 New Mexicans living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

The center is one of seven similar facilities in the country, but the only one of its kind in Mountain West states. It is funded through a five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health worth $1 million annually.

Center Director Dr. Gary Rosenberg told a group of health care professionals who gathered for the grand opening Wednesday that the establishment of the center was “perfect timing.” He said the U.S. and countries around the world are facing a “huge problem” as their populations age.

“As people age, the No. 1 disease that attacks them is dementia,” Rosenberg said.

The center brings together specialists from the departments of neurology, internal medicine and psychiatry. They can provide neurological evaluations, treatment plans and family resources. The center also conducts research, including clinical trials for new drugs being developed for Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases.

It has partnerships with UNM’s Mind Research Center, which has advanced imaging and laboratory facilities. It also works closely with the New Mexico Alzheimer’s Association, which offers free services and resources to caregivers facing the disease.

Rosenberg said patients can be referred to the center by their primary doctor. Most insurance plans will be accepted, including Medicaid and Medicare. If a patient agrees to participate in clinical trial programs, and they qualify for a study, they may receive services that are part of the program at no cost.

Clinical services are provided at UNM Clinical Neurosciences Center at UNM Hospital, 900 Camino de Salud NE. Research is conducted at Domenici Hall, 1101 Yale NE. phone number is 505-272-3735.