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In recognition of his years of service to advance Alzheimer’s Disease research, Fremonter Marv Welstead will receive a UNMC Community Service to Research Award at the Distinguished Scientists awards ceremony on Feb. 13.

Welstead began his journey of supporting research for the disease after his wife, Jean, developed Alzheimer’s in 2001.

At that time, there were no local organizations or support groups in town to help him, so the now 97-year-old, began researching the disease on his own by reading books and research papers, and asking physicians and researchers as many questions as he could.

Following Jean’s death in 2009, Welstead was one of three people who organized the Fremont Area Alzheimer’s Committee, now the Fremont Area Alzheimer’s Collaboration, to harness community support and fundraising efforts to help him in his quest to help other impacted by Alzheimer’s.

In 2012, the Collaboration established the Fremont Area Alzheimer’s Fund, administered through the Fremont Area Community Foundation, and began fundraising through the annual Fremont Area Alzheimer’s Walk, as well as online gifts, memorials and an annual golf tournament fundraiser.

“Marv has been tremendously supportive of AD research at UNMC for the past five years,” nominator Daniel Murman, M.D., vice chair, clinical and translational research, and director of the Memory Disorders Clinic and Geriatric Neurology Program, said. “He exemplifies how someone with vision, community involvement, persuasiveness and passion can make an important difference.”

The Fremont Area Alzheimer’s Fund allocated 60 percent of the money raised to support Alzheimer’s disease research and 40 percent to support caregiver education programs.

There are currently two support groups that meet monthly in Fremont, where Welstead ensures guest speakers, many from UNMC, attend each meeting.

Through Welstead’s efforts, the Fremont Area Alzheimer’s Fund has granted more than $125,000 to support clinical and translational Alzheimer’s disease research projects at UNMC that help investigators successfully compete for additional extramural funding.

Some of those research projects include:

  • Build infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Disease clinical trials.
  • Purchase a retinal imaging machine (OCT imaging) to study Alzheimer’s and related neurodegenerative conditions.
  • Investigate changes in neuronal networks in Alzheimer’s using resting-state fMRI and explore the impact of neuromodulation on memory and these networks .
  • Study a transcranial Doppler technique as a potential biomarker for preclinical Alzheimer’s.
  • Understand the neural basis of attention and working memory deficits in patients with Alzheimer’s using MEG.

Three years ago, he established the Marvin and Jean Welstead Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Research fund through the NU Foundation and annually donates $2,500 from his retirement fund.

“I’ll do anything to help the caregivers and researchers. I just want to help find a cure for AD.”

Welstead said he is honored by the award.

“It’s been a labor of love, but I couldn’t have done it without the help of the great people at UNMC.”

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