Photo: Lisha Cole ’83 swabbed
Photo: David Delpoio
Medicine & Health

Swab for the Future
A Class of ’68-er turns her runion into an Alzheimer's research opportunity

By Tim Murphy ’91 / July/August 2018
September 12th, 2018

When Providence’s Dr. Karen Bell ’68, ’70 MMSc, retired from the Boston-based Partners HealthCare system a few years ago, she threw herself into volunteering on projects she’s passionate about—including the Alzheimer’s research led by Brown neurology professor Stephen Salloway. She started thinking about how she could tie that work into her upcoming 50th reunion—and decided to give her fellow returning alums the chance to do something for science. The Saturday afternoon of Alumni Weekend, she and Salloway hosted a Class of ’68–sponsored event at the Watson CIT in which Salloway talked about his research on the APoE gene, a predictor of Alzheimer’s risk. Then 80 alums volunteered for an oral swab to go into a nationwide database to track incidence of the gene. They won’t get the results, but they may be contacted down the line to see if they’d like to participate in research toward preventing the progression of the disease. “We figured that everyone at their 50th reunion would be worried about Alzheimer’s, so this is a great way for people to think forward and engage in our future,” said Bell, adding that plans were already underway to replicate the swab-portunity at future Commencements, and even on other campuses. (Learn more at “It’s very much in the spirit of the Class of ’68.”

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