Construction Underway on New Sanders-Brown Center on Aging Memory Clinic

Construction at Turfland of the new Sanders-Brown facility on June 7, 2021. Photo by Pete Comparoni | UKphoto
Construction at Turfland of the new Sanders-Brown facility on June 7, 2021. Photo by Pete Comparoni | UKphoto

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 10, 2021) Alzheimer’s disease wreaks emotional havoc on patients, who are robbed of their memories, their dignity and their lives. About 75,000 Kentuckians who are 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Nationally, there are nearly six million Americans living with Alzheimer’s. Since that number is expected to rise to nearly 14 million by 2050, Alzheimer’s will likely hit closer to home for many.

In just 40 years, the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging (SBCoA) has built an international reputation for best-in-class research into a disease that kills more people every year than breast and prostate cancer combined. At the same time, they have brought understanding of dementia home to Kentucky, arming thousands with the tools and information they need to age gracefully.

The Sanders-Brown Memory Clinic is the place where the research intersects with patient care. After spending several years housed in their current location on North Broadway in Lexington, they have simply outgrown the space. As the world looks to Sanders-Brown for answers to the mysteries of dementia and the elderly rely on Sanders-Brown for help charting their path to a healthy and vigorous last chapter, leaders at UK believe it is time that Sanders-Brown’s home for clinical research and patient care reflects their reputation.

“A new clinic is mission-critical to advancing research and patient care at Sanders-Brown,” said Linda Van Eldik, Ph.D, Sanders-Brown director and Dr. E. Vernon Smith and Eloise C. Smith Alzheimer's Research Endowed Chair. “With expanded space and new equipment, we will be better able to help our patients, families and caregivers navigate the emotional and financial burdens of dementia. We will also have greater capacity to conduct clinical trials for the next generation of dementia treatments.”

Construction on the new clinic is currently underway at UK HealthCare’s Turfland campus along Harrodsburg Road. The new clinic is expected to be ready for occupancy in November 2021.  The new space will provide a seamless, less stressful experience for a fragile population. It will essentially be a one-stop shop for memory care and support.

At 15,000 square feet, the new clinic will have the technology and space to accommodate expanded research, education and patient care, including:

  • More than doubling the capacity to serve patients and research volunteers.
  • Multiple disciplines in support of healthy aging: medication management, lifestyle adaptations, addressing sleep disturbances, reducing fall risk and improving financial management.
  • Co-located services, including cognitive testing, gait analysis, retinal analysis, EEG/EMG testing, dedicated space for social work consultations and patient education/resource rooms.
  • Separate general and extended waiting areas.
  • New telemedicine space to serve patients and families who have difficulty traveling.
  • Proximity to other UK HealthCare clinics.
  • Better parking and wayfinding.

Sanders-Brown has offered 42 clinical trials in prevention and treatment of dementia since 2015. The new facility will allow the addition of at least 11 more clinical trials involving 625 additional participants, and it will speed up the transition from discovery to patient care. Additionally, the new clinic will greatly improve the competitiveness of the UK Alzheimer’s Disease Center, which SBCoA directs, to compete for rapidly expanding federal research funding on aging.

Van Eldik says it is a true team effort to make this dream a reality with SBCoA, UK HealthCare, UK College of Medicine, UK Office of Vice President for Research, President Eli Capilouto and the Philanthropy Council all committing funds to the project.

“Community support has played an essential role in many of science’s greatest triumphs,” said Van Eldik. “We look forward to more partnerships as we forge a path toward a cure.”

The University of Kentucky initiated its aging program in 1963. With a grant from the Eleanor and John Y. Brown Jr. Foundation in 1972, the construction of the current Sanders-Brown Research Building was begun and, with additional funding from the state, a program in biomedical research was implemented. In 1979, under the direction of the late Dr. William Markesbery, Sanders-Brown emerged as a national leader in efforts to improve the quality of life for the elderly through research and education. SBCoA's major areas of focus are normal brain aging, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

In 1985, the University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging Alzheimer's Disease Center was funded as one of the first 10 Alzheimer's Disease Research Centers funded by the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, grant number P30AG028383. Currently, only 31 designated Alzheimer's Disease Research Centers exist in the U.S. and only nine — including Sanders-Brown — have been continuously funded since the designation was launched.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.