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UPMC Senior Services Honors Alzheimer’s Disease Researchers

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Ashley Trentrock

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PITTSBURGHUPMC Senior Services will honor William E. Klunk, M.D., Ph.D., and Chester A. Mathis, Ph.D., both distinguished professors at the University of Pittsburgh, as the 2019 Grand Champions at the 11th Annual Celebrating Senior Champions Dinner and Auction. This award is the highest honor given by UPMC Senior Services.


“Drs. Klunk and Mathis are true pioneers in their field. Their research on Alzheimer’s, dementia and positron emission tomography has, and will continue, to improve the lives of millions,” said Deborah Brodine, president of UPMC Senior Services and UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital. “UPMC Senior Services is proud to recognize these two for their exemplary work on behalf of the seniors in western Pennsylvania.” 


Klunk is a distinguished professor of psychiatry and neurology and co-director of the University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer Disease Research Center. Currently, he is Levidow-Pittsburgh Foundation chair in Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Disorders and was the past chair of the Alzheimer’s Association Medical and Scientific Advisory Council. 


“I am honored to receive this award and feel fortunate to have dedicated so much of my life to Alzheimer’s research alongside my colleagues at Pitt and UPMC,” said Dr. Klunk. “Alzheimer’s impacts a large population of seniors and we hope to keep making progress in our research.”


Mathis is a distinguished professor of radiology at the University of Pittsburgh, director of the University of Pittsburgh Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Facility, and UPMC endowed chair of PET Research.  


“I am grateful to UPMC Senior Communities for this honor,” said Mathis. “If we can continue to understand Alzheimer’s and develop ways to study the brain, one day we may be able to help seniors both in Pittsburgh and around the world.”


For their joint research efforts in Alzheimer’s disease, the two colleagues share the 2004 MetLife Foundation Award, the 2008 Potamkin Prize and the 2009 Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research Institute Awards.


UPMC Senior Services also will honor the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank as the 2019 Community Champion. Lisa Scales, president and CEO, will accept the award on behalf of the organization. Through advocacy efforts, the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank has become a primary driver in comprehensive anti-hunger endeavors regionally, statewide and at the national level. Food-insecure seniors are more likely to have health concerns and with anticipated growth in the senior population, the organization is dedicated to ensuring that no senior has to choose between buying food or medicine.  


Additionally, this year’s Caregiver Champion is Ralph T. DeStefano who retired in 1999 following a successful career in health care and labor law practice. In 2009 he returned to the workforce to serve as president and chief executive officer of the Passavant Hospital Foundation before retiring again in 2013. DeStefano serves on a number of boards in the northern region of Pittsburgh and is a true ambassador for the UPMC Passavant campus. He also was instrumental in supporting the evolution of Cumberland Woods Village independent living campus, which now serves as an important social outlet for thousands of seniors.  


The awards will be presented tonight at the annual UPMC Senior Services Celebrating Senior Champions dinner and auction at the Omni William Penn hotel.