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The Alzheimer Enigma in an Aging World

Posted by NTE on January 25, 2016 in Public Lectures
Photo courtesy of Le Temps
Photo courtesy of Le Temps

Public talk with moderated discussion

Speaker: Margaret Lock, Marjorie Bronfman Professor Emerita in Social Studies in Medicine, McGill University • Officer of the Order of Canada • Fellow, Royal Society of Canada

Moderator: Françoise Baylis, Professor & Canada Research Chair in Bioethics & Philosophy, Dalhousie University • Fellow, Royal Society of Canada

Monday, January 25, 2016 (7:00PM)
Paul O'Regan Hall, Halifax Central Library, 5440 Spring Garden Rd.
Download event poster.

Alzheimer’s disease is frequently described today as an epidemic, with estimates of 115 million cases worldwide by 2050. No effective medication exists to halt the progression of this condition, although some drugs may alleviate symptoms for a few months, occasionally a year or two, but often with side effects.  Arguments are currently taking place in the scientific world as to what exactly is Alzheimer’s disease, and many specialists believe that several conditions involving dementia are clustered together under this label. One major complicating factor is that it is often difficult to separate out symptoms of Alzheimer's-type dementia from "normal" aging, particularly in people aged 75 and over whose numbers are rapidly increasing. In early 2011 a so-called paradigm shift involving a move towards a preventative approach to Alzheimer's at the molecular level was announced. This approach involves the early detection of biological markers indicative of pre-symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease in middle aged people or even younger. In this talk Professor Lock will discuss the significance of risk predictions based on biological marker detection, and the irresolvable uncertainties such information raises for involved individuals and families. She will conclude by arguing that a systematized public health approach to the Alzheimer phenomenon is urgently needed, in addition to ongoing efforts to better understand the problem at the molecular level.

Margaret Lock (PhD) is Marjorie Bronfman Professor in Social Studies of Medicine, Emerita, Dept. of Social Studies of Medicine, McGill University. Her groundbreaking work in medical anthropology is recognized around the globe. Her books include Encounters with Aging: Mythologies of Menopause in Japan and North America (1993), Twice Dead: Organ Transplants and the Reinvention of Death (2002), The Alzheimer Conundrum: Entanglements of Dementia and Aging (2013), and, with Vinh-Kim Nguyen, An Anthropology of Biomedicine (2010).