November 20, 2000
Volume XXXIII, No. 38

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$6 million gift advances aging research programs at Health Science Center

Aging research programs at the Health Science Center will benefit greatly from an initial $6 million bequest recently received from a grateful patient and longtime supporter. The Health Science Center also will receive additional distributions from the estate to further increase the support of aging research.

Berneice Castella was a patient at the Health Science Center, along with her husband, William, for several years. Through this association, the couple took an interest in research programs on age-related conditions and diseases at the Health Science Center. After her husband’s death, Castella made several substantial gifts over the years to support research in neurology, particularly into degenerative diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer’s disease, in addition to including the $6 million bequest in her will. She passed away last year.

The gift will further strengthen the Health Science Center’s commitment to aging research by establishing an endowment that will be distributed among the five schools—medical, dental, nursing, graduate biosciences and allied health sciences—to support aging research initiatives throughout the institution. The Health Science Center has become a leader in aging research, and receives record amounts of federal funding from the National Institute of Aging as well as through private gifts.

The Health Science Center devotes more than 150 faculty members from all five schools to aging research, clinical care and education through its Aging Research and Education Center (AREC).

Research into age-related conditions and diseases likely will increase rapidly over the next decade in anticipation of a substantial rise in the number of older individuals in the U.S. population.

The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that the percentage of U.S. citizens 65 or older will increase from its current rate of about 15 percent to 20 percent by 2050. The bureau also predicts that while the overall U.S. population will rise nearly 50 percent by the year 2050, the number of Americans 85 and older will rise more than 400 percent.

Through research-based educational programming, families can have a greater understanding of the aging process and increased skills in identifying community services that can aid elders.