On Wednesday, April 15, 2015, renowned journalist and NPR host Diane Rehm welcomed guests to the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation’s (ADDF) Fifth Annual Great Ladies Luncheon & Fashion Show at The Ritz-Carlton in Washington, DC.
Rehm, who has long used her public platform to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease, spoke eloquently about the need to increase support for drug discovery for Alzheimer’s. She also expressed hope for the future, noting that “there are hundreds of new, potentially disease-modifying drugs in the pipeline.”
The Great Ladies Luncheon & Fashion Show is the brainchild of Elise Lefkowitz, a well-known Washingtonian who lost her mother, Estelle Gelman, to Alzheimer’s disease. Elise and her husband Marc generously underwrite the fashion extravaganza on an annual basis.
In its fifth year, the Neiman Marcus-sponsored event featured a runway show with designs from Akris’s Fall/Winter 2015/16 Collection. The Swiss-luxury brand is immensely popular among the DC social set.
This year’s Luncheon & Fashion Show honored Emmy-Award winning journalist and author Meryl Comer. Comer’s New York Time’s bestseller, “Slow Dancing with a Stranger,” details her painful experience caring for her husband, who suffers from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Accepting her award, Comer said, “I fight for everyone who is well. I fight for all women because I want better options for them. And I fight because I don’t want my great grandchildren asking how their grandparent could forget them.”
The day began with a science symposium from the ADDF’s Founding Executive Director and Chief Science Officer, Howard Fillit, MD, who was joined by Roberta Diaz Brinton, PhD, of the University of Southern California. Entitled “Women and Alzheimer’s Disease,” the presentation explored the reasons women are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
With funding from the ADDF, Dr. Brinton is developing a drug, Allopregnanolone, which can reverse memory deficits in mice and restore normal cognitive function. During her presentation, Dr. Brinton noted that “it’s not the years women age [that increases their risk for Alzheimer’s] it’s the way that they age.”
The Great Ladies Luncheon & Fashion Show raised more than $229,000 to support Alzheimer's drug research.
Guests included: Diane Rehm (Host and Executive Producer, “The Diane Rehm Show”), Meryl Comer (Emmy-Award Winning Journalist, Author of Slowing Dancing with a Stranger, and Alzheimer’s advocate), Elise Lefkowitz (Washington DC philanthropist), Roberta Diaz Brinton, PhD (Vanderveen Chair in Therapeutic Discovery and Development at the University of Southern California), Howard Fillit, MD (Founding Executive Director and Chief Science Officer, Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation), Ann B. Friedman (Director of Conservation International and wife of Thomas L. Friedman), Trish and George Vradenburg (Co-founders, UsAgainstAlzheimer's and Washington DC philanthropists.)