Annual Blackman Lecture
at Teachers College Focuses on Downs & Alzheimer’s
Dr. Warren B. Zigman,
a researcher in the field of Mental Retardation and Development
Disabilities, spoke at the recent Leonard and Frances Blackman
Lecture held at Teachers College, Columbia University recently.
Dr. Zigman’s presentation: “Alzheimer’s
Disease in Adults With Mental Retardation: The Impact of Individual
Differences on Risk” gives hope that people with Down’s
syndrome can age successfully without contracting Alzheimer’s
The Leonard and Frances
Blackman Lecture has been given each spring since 2000 by
leading specialists in the fields of Mental Retardation and
Special Education. Teachers College’s
Center for Opportunities and Outcomes for People with Disabilities
sponsors the event.
Dr. Zigman, who has
spent more than 15 years engaged in research on Aging and
the development of Alzheimer’s disease in
adults with mental retardation, has been conducting studies
in collaboration with scientists at the New York State Institute
for Basic Research in Development Disabilities and Columbia
Dr. Zigman noted that
50 percent of a sample population of approximately 300 people
who have Down’s syndrome did
not have Alzheimer’s disease at age 60. Initially, it was thought that all patients with Down’s
syndrome who lived into their 60’s and 70’s would
eventually get Alzheimer’s. “It is not something
that has to happen,” says Dr. Zigman.
Zigman and his associates
are looking into various factors why adults with Down’s syndrome did not also have Alzheimer’s
disease. “We’re still following this up,” said
Zigman. Much more research in this area needs to be done. Zigman
noted that women with Down’s syndrome who had higher
estrogen rates had a later onset when they did get Alzheimer’s.
He also cited research done by Dr. Nicole Schupf of Columbia
University, who found that certain genetic markers in Alleles
pointed out if someone with Down’s syndrome would have
an earlier or later onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Joel E. Mittler,
Professor of Education, at the C.W. Post campus of Long Island
University, attended the lecture and was impressed by Dr.
Zigman’s research. “There
is a lot to ponder,” said Dr. Mittler.
Dr. Blackman, who attended the Lecture with his family, was
awarded the Teachers College Medal for Distinguished Service
in 1998. Dr. Blackman set up a fund for Teachers College to
present leading experts in Special Education and Developmental
Disabilities. Dr. Zigman was the sixth presenter in the Blackman