On Thursday, May 30, the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) held its Thirteenth Annual Connoisseur's Dinner at Sotheby's in New York City. Hosted by nine-time Emmy award-winning journalist and ADDF Board member Paula Zahn, the event raised $2.4 million for Alzheimer's research.
The special evening marked the one-year anniversary of the ADDF's new research initiative, the Diagnostics Accelerator, recognizing prominent philanthropists for funding this program. Created in spring 2018, the Diagnostics Accelerator was designed to fast-track the development of new tools and biomarker tests for Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia.
Mark Roithmayr, Dr. Niranjan Bose, Leonard A. Lauder, and Ronald S. Lauder. Photo by Sean Zanni/PMC.
Leonard A. Lauder, who co-founded the ADDF with his brother, Ronald S. Lauder, welcomed guests remarking, "Twenty years ago my brother Ronald and I took on a cause—to end Alzheimer's. Many thought it was an impossible undertaking—that didn't stop us. With the right research and right resources, such as the Diagnostics Accelerator, we are hopeful that new, effective treatments for Alzheimer's will be developed in our lifetimes."
Mr. Lauder noted that ADDF's progress is a testament to Bill Gates, Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos, the Dolby family, the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, and all who joined with him to create the Diagnostics Accelerator.
Ronald S. Lauder remarked, "Leonard and I extend our gratitude to the core funders of the Diagnostics Accelerator for their outstanding commitment. This is a defining time in Alzheimer's research and this initiative is important to develop drugs to prevent and treat Alzheimer's disease."
Ms. Zahn presented the first four award recipients of the Diagnostics Accelerator. The winners were selected based on their bold ideas for advancing the study of simple blood tests and eye scans for diagnosing Alzheimer's.
She also introduced special guest Michelle Florin who paid a heartfelt tribute to her mother, Jacki Florin, who was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's at age 54. She shared excerpts from letters that she wrote to her mother, knowing that she would never be able to read them.
Board members Robert Belfer, Carol Seabrook Boulanger, Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton, Nancy Corzine, Mitch Eichen, Bonnie Pfeifer Evans, Nancy Goodes, Dr. Allan Green, Christopher Johnson, Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg, Larry Leeds, Phil Lovett, Tom McWilliams, Julie Medler, Phebe Farrow Port, Sharon Sager, Randal Sandler, Tom Scanlan, Alice Shure, Stephen Toma, David Weinreb, and Wendy Wilshin attended the event. Additional guests included Myra Biblowit, Rose Marie Bravo and William Jackey, Meryl Comer, John Demsey, Ronald Dickerman, Natasha and David Dolby, Mary-Ann and Fabrizio Freda, Susan Gutfreund, Jane Hertzmark Hudis, Eleanora Kennedy, Kerry Kennedy, Judy Lauder, William Lauder, Heidi McWilliams, Donald E. Newhouse, Kelly Ripken, Joan and George Schiele, Barbara and Donald Tober, and George Vradenburg. Inaugural Diagnostics Accelerator grant recipients Kaj Blennow and Hüseyin Firat, MD, PhD, were also in attendance.
Guests viewed highlights of Sotheby's spring sales during cocktails and enjoyed wine pairings selected by Sotheby's Wine with dinner. Geraldine Nager, Senior Vice President Sotheby's New York, then led the "Fund a Scientist" auction, which raised funds for clinical trials for Alzheimer's.