Health & Medicine

New California Alzheimer’s task force led by Maria Shriver has a high-profile lineup

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday morning a team of heavy-hitting scientists, politicians, innovators and industry leaders will join the state’s former first lady, Maria Shriver, on a task force addressing the challenges that Alzheimer’s disease poses for a graying California.

Former Secretary of State George Schultz will act as a strategic adviser to the group, and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has agreed to work as a member of the task force. Newsom also has selected a number of leading physicians and researchers whose words carry weight with other scientists and medical professionals in the field.

The governor and Shriver also have included caregivers and laypeople such as “Blue Zones” author Dan Buettner who are shaping the conversation around Alzheimer’s and aging either internationally, nationally or in their respective communities.

Newsom, in his State of the State address, vowed to create a master plan on aging for a graying Golden State where for the first time in history, he said, older Californians will outnumber babies.

“Far too many Californians have seen the crushing grip of Alzheimer’s on our loved ones,” Newsom said in a news release identifying the full membership of his Alzheimer’s Prevention and Preparedness Task Force. “It is one of the leading causes of death among Californians with particularly severe impacts on our mothers, wives and daughters. It’s time we take meaningful action for those living with Alzheimer’s and for the people who love and care for them.”

Shriver broached the topic of what is needed to prepare for a coming epidemic of Alzheimer’s disease in a Feb. 11 op-ed for the Los Angeles Times. She noted: “Every 65 seconds in the United States a new brain develops Alzheimer’s.”

Shriver will convene her first meeting in November as part of national Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, and the task force is charged with releasing a report by fall 2020, around the same time that Newsom’s master plan on aging is expected.

To meet that challenge, Shriver will call upon expertise from Buettner, Panetta, Schultz and these other luminaries:

Dr. Marcy Adelman, a clinical psychologist with experience serving on the LGBT Aging Policy Task Force.

Kumaran Akilan, a University of California, Merced, student who was inspired by his grandfather’s loss of cognitive abilities to develop a computer vision algorithm with the goal of diagnosing Alzheimer’s via a smartphone.

Dr. Maria P. Aranda, a researcher who focuses upon psychosocial care for people with psychiatric disorders related to Alzheimer’s, other types of dementia and depression

Dr. Keith Black, a pioneering neurosurgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Dr. Susan Bokheimer, a clinical neuropsychologist at UCLA who’s published more than 200 papers on neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Kathleen Brown, a former California state treasurer who’s now an attorney for Manatt Phelps & Phillips and the youngest daughter of former Gov. Edmund “Pat” Brown.

Dr. Wynnelena Canio, a geriatrician and psychiatrist with Kaiser Permanente who created Northern California’s first program to support patients who suffer memory loss and their caregivers.

Tim Carpenter, who founded a nonprofit that focuses on uplifting seniors and families living in affordable housing with programs for arts, wellness and community building.

Susan DeMarois, a registered lobbyist for the national Alzheimer’s Association who advocates for the 2.3 million state residents whose lives are directly affected by the illness.

Josh Fryday, who was appointed California’s Chief Service Officer by Newsom and leads Cal Volunteers

Paula Gann and Kyle Scrivner, a mother-daughter team. Scrivner, who was born with Down syndrome, was diagnosed as an adult with Alzheimer’s in 2017. Gann has advocated for her daughter’s growth throughout her life while also building a successful career in the field of magazine publishing and nonprofit leadership.

Dr. Adele Hayutin, a demographer at the Stanford Center on Longevity whose research has led the public discourse on the challenges of aging.

Dr. Oanh Le Meyer, a neurological researcher at UC Davis’ School of Medicine who has looked at the range of impacts that social determinants can have on Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Bob Linscheid, a humanitarian and innovator whose has served as the leader of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and Innovate North State.

Dr. David Lubarsky, an anesthesiologist who is also chief executive of UC Davis Health and UCD’s vice chancellor of human health sciences.

Pam Montana, a former Intel Corp. executive who was diagnosed with Younger Onset Alzheimer’s in 2016. She and Linscheid, her husband, are active spokespeople for the fight against Alzheimer’s.

Doug Moore, executive director of the United Domestic Workers of America, a union that supports home care workers.

Graciela Moreno, an Emmy Award-winning journalist at Fresno’s ABC30 who has volunteered with the Alzheimer’s Association.

Lauren Miller Rogen, an actress and screenwriter who with her husband, actor Seth Rogen, co-founded Hilarity for Charity to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease among young people. They have raised more than $6.5 million to assist people coping with the illness.

Dr. Howard Rosen, a UCSF behavioral neurologist.

Lily Sarafan, chief executive of Home Assistance, a 7,000-employee company that works to enable happier aging at home.

Dr. Sharon Sha, the medical director of Stanford University’s Neuroscience Clinical Trials Group who has devoted herself to finding treatments for neurogenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s.

Todd Shetter, an executive with ActivCare Living, a company that works to improve the lives of those who suffer from memory loss

April Verrett, president of Service Employees International Union Local 2015. The nation’s largest long term care union, it represents more than 385,000 home care and nursing home workers in California.

Dr. Kristine Yaffe, a professor of psychiatry, neurology and epidemiology at UCSF.

Shriver said: “This task force will lay out a path for our state to deal with Alzheimer’s and other aging-related diseases. Our mission is to develop a plan that will disrupt the way we deal with Alzheimer’s and change how citizens, politicians, cities, corporations and community organizations work together to tackle this disease.”

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Cathie Anderson covers health care for The Bee. Growing up, her blue-collar parents paid out of pocket for care. She joined The Bee in 2002, with roles including business columnist and features editor. She previously worked at papers including the Dallas Morning News, Detroit News and Austin American-Statesman.
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