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INTERNATIONAL LEADER
OF THE SCHOOL SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME
VISITS UK; RECEIVES HONORARY DEGREE

By Tammy Gay

Sister Rosemay Howarth, second from right, tours a UK lab with (from left) President Lee T. Todd Jr., Dr. William Markesbery and Professor David Snowden

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"I admire Sister Rosemary and the School Sisters of Notre Dame for their courageous part in the Nun Study, which enables our researchers to make advances and discoveries in the area of Alzheimer's disease as well as other neurological problems."

-- Lee T. Todd Jr.,
president,
University of Kentucky

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May 6, 2002 (Lexington, Ky.) -- Sister Rosemary Howarth, General Superior of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, toured the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging at the University of Kentucky Friday. The center is home to the Nun Study, one of the best-known international studies of aging and Alzheimer's disease.

UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. honored Sister Rosemary, the international leader of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, with an honorary doctor of letters degree May 5, during the 135th UK Commencement. Sister Rosemary oversees the work of more than 4,000 sisters working in 33 countries.

"I admire Sister Rosemary and the School Sisters of Notre Dame for their courageous part in the Nun Study, which enables our researchers to make advances and discoveries in the area of Alzheimer's disease as well as other neurological problems," Todd said.

The Nun Study is directed by David Snowdon, professor of neurology at the UK College of Medicine.

For over 10 years, the Nun Study has collected extensive data on 678 School Sisters of Notre Dame, who ranged in age from 75 to 107 years. The sisters have allowed UK scientists annually to assess their mental and physical function and to examine their brains at death. The sisters' involvement in the study has resulted in significant advances and discoveries in the area of Alzheimer's disease and other neurological disorders. Findings have appeared in major scientific and medical journals, such as the "Journal of the American Medical Association" as well as Snowdon's best selling book "Aging with Grace," which was released in paperback this week.

"The sisters are real pioneers in many respects," Snowdon said. "Consistent with their life time of teaching and service to others, their participation in our study has allowed them to teach all of us how to avoid diseases and age with grace."

Sister Rosemary, who presently lives in Rome, has been with the School Sisters of Notre Dame for 35 years. She previously was pastoral minister at Our Lady of Guadalupe Community in Kitchener Ontario, Canada. From 1986 to 1993, she was on mission serving women and youth in Peru. Before that, she was involved in the training of young sisters in Canada and worked for several years as an elementary and special education teacher and administrator. Sister Rosemary was welcomed to the Center on Aging by William Markesbery, the center's director.

"Without the efforts of Sister Rosemary and the 678 nuns from the School Sisters of Notre Dame, the research conducted during the Nun Study would not be possible," Markesbery said. "I commend them for their work internationally, nationally and right here at UK."

Under Markesbery's leadership, the Center on Aging has become internationally known as one of the premier aging research centers. It is one of the first research centers in the United States devoted to the study of aging and is one of the nation's 10 original Alzheimer's Disease Research Centers funded by the National Institutes of Health. A multidisciplinary team of more than 150 faculty members from departments throughout the University is focused on identifying the causes of Alzheimer's disease, stroke and other diseases which primarily affect adults 65 years of age and older.


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