Founding Association member Katzman dies
The Alzheimer's Association mourns the loss of Robert Katzman, M.D., a pivotal figure in Alzheimer research and one of the founding members of the Alzheimer's Association. Professor emeritus of neurosciences at the University of California at San Diego, Dr. Katzman died Sept. 16 at age 82.
In 1976, an editorial by Dr. Katzman appearing in the Archives of Neurology cast Alzheimer's disease in a new light. While the current dogma was that Alzheimer's was a rare condition, Dr. Katzman characterized the disease as "a major killer" and a significant public health problem.
"This was important in bringing the disease out of obscurity and into the forefront of medical scientific research," says longtime colleague Zaven Khachaturian, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute. "Before that, in the early 1970s, there were only a handful of people, literally, in the United States who were interested in studying the disease and perhaps an equal number around the world."
A clinician, Dr. Katzman, worked closely with neuropathologist Robert Terry, M.D. In 1977, the duo joined with Katherine Bick, Ph.D., to organize the first Alzheimer's disease conference in the United States. Dr. Katzman's input was key as the National Institutes of Health developed programs for the National Institute on Aging and National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
"It became apparent that we needed a voice independent of the government as an advocacy group for Alzheimer's disease patients and caregivers and to urge Congress to appropriate funds for Alzheimer's research," recalls Dr. Khachaturian. "Bob played an important role in accomplishing that."
That role included helping to bring Jerome Stone to the table in creating the Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Association. The first national board meeting of the new association was held in 1979 with Stone as president. Dr. Katzman was co-chair of the Association's first medical advisory board.
"Bob's legacy extends from being a highly regarded neurologist and clinician to being an excellent teacher, mentoring individuals who would go on to become leaders in Alzheimer's research," says Dr. Khachaturian. "He cast a very big shadow in the field."
Donations in memory of Dr. Katzman may be made to the Robert Katzman, M.D., Clinical Research Training Fellowship in Alzheimer's Research, established in 2006 by the American Academy of Neurology Foundation and the Alzheimer's Association. For details, contact Kathie Lazar-Robinson via e-mail or at 1.866.770.7570, ext. 2818.