Most people have occasional memory lapses. Often the problem is a normal consequence of stress or aging. However, when memory lapses begin to interfere with everyday function, such as job performance or other independent functions, assistance from health professionals who specialize in the problems of memory loss may be needed.
Such specialized assistance is available at the Memory Disorders Clinic (MDC) of Duke University Health Systems. The clinic is located within the Duke Health Center at Morreene Road in Durham, NC.
The MDC, established in 1986 as the clinical component for the Joseph and Kathleen Bryan Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (Bryan ADRC), treats a wide range of memory problems arising from diverse medical causes including neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer's disease, vascular problems, and other neurological disorders). The MDC provides comprehensive evaluations and outpatient care.
Its specialized clinical team consists of neurologists, neuropsychologists, a geriatric psychiatrist, a nurse practitioner, social worker, and clinical coordinators who work with the patient and family to provide assistance for their medical, behavioral, and caregiver support needs.
The MDC evaluates more than 500 new patients yearly. Patients, family members, friends, or physicians can make clinic referrals. The MDC staff works closely with the patient's personal physician to determine the cause of the memory problem and appropriate treatment. After a thorough diagnostic evaluation, the MDC staff meets with family members to discuss the patient's diagnosis, care, and treatment.
Education, intervention, counseling, and access to support groups are available to patients and family members. The MDC also offers the opportunity for participation in research studies including clinical drug trials, longitudinal studies, imaging, and an autopsy program.
Clinical research studies are conducted under research protocols approved and supervised by the Duke University Institution Review Board for Clinical Investigations.
The Bryan ADRC conducts basic science investigations in Alzheimer's disease and related disorders.
These investigations use genetic, biochemical, and cellular approaches to understand the pathogenesis of these disorders. The now well-known apolipoproteinE (ApoE) gene associated with Alzheimer's disease was discovered in the Bryan ADRC neuroscience laboratories and remains a major focus of ongoing research investigations.
Human brain tissue is important to many of these investigations. The Kathleen Price Bryan Brain Bank of the Bryan ADRC provides this valuable tissue and is recognized as an international research resource
Elective rotations in the MDC are available to Duke residents and medical students. In addition, fellowship opportunities involving clinical behavioral neurology and basic science are available through the Bryan ADRC or the Division of Neurology.