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Peter Whitehouse M.D., Ph.D.

Peter J. Whitehouse, M.D., P.hD.- Professor of Neurology and Cognitive Science at Case Western Reserve University



Friday March 7, 2008
12:30-1:30 p.m.
Crawford Hall - Room 9
Inamori Center
Case Western Reserve University

Once upon a time, some elderly people became senile, or demented. It was sad, and scary, and most people did not think they could do much about it.

Over the past century, however, dementia among the elderly was redefined as Alzheimers disease. As a disease, it had to have a diagnosis, and treatments, maybe even a cure. As a disease, it also became a political cause and a big business.

Peter Whitehouse has been one of the leaders in the definition and treatment of Alzheimer's disease. During his career, research spending on Alzheimer's grew from $4 million to $700 million. Dr.
Whitehouse helped develop one class of drug treatment. Yet, as a researcher and clinician and human being, he became more and more troubled by the Alzheimer's enterprise. In his new book with Daniel George, The Myth of Alzheimer's: What You Aren't Being Told About Today's Most Dreaded Diagnosis, Dr. Whitehouse challenges the concept of Alzheimer's Disease. He argues that what we call Alzheimer's is a natural phenomenon of brain aging, the speed and severity of which varies among individuals for many reasons. Therefore a "cure" is a mirage, and viewing of the condition as a medical challenge can lead to treating people in ways that make their lives miserable.

The Friday Lunch is a brown-bag event open to all.  Cookies and some beverages are provided. 

The remainder of this e-mail reports what we know about the schedule for the rest of the semester. We will be sending out announcements each week. If you would prefer not to receive the announcements, please inform Dr. Andrew Lucker, Associate Director of the Center for Policy Studies, by e-mail (

About Our Guest

Peter J. Whitehouse, MD, PhD is Professor of Neurology as well as former Professor of Cognitive Science, Psychiatry, Neuroscience, Psychology, Nursing, Organizational Behavior, Bioethics and History. He received his undergraduate degree from Brown University and MD-PhD (Psychology) from The Johns Hopkins University (with field work at Harvard and Boston Universities, followed by a Fellowship in Neuroscience and Psychiatry and a faculty appointment at Hopkins. With colleagues he discovered fundamental aspects of the cholinergic pathology in Alzheimer’s and related dementias, which lead to the development of our current generation drugs to treat these conditions. In 1986 he moved to Case Western Reserve University to develop the University Alzheimer Center, now a part of the University Neurological Institute at University Hospitals Case Medical Center. This center became one of the ten best funded in the world. He continued his own life-long learning with a Masters Degree in Bioethics and Fellowship in Organizational Behavior at Case. In 1999, he founded with his wife, Catherine, The Intergenerational School, a unique public multiage, community school. This award-winning school serves learners of all ages from Cleveland and the surrounding suburbs and is committed to excellence in life-long learning and spirited citizenship. He has been active in SAGES (Seminar Approach to General Education and Scholarship) and CSP (College Scholars Program). He developed courses for undergraduates focusing on the theme of wisdom. He helped develop the new medical school curriculum and teaches in various programs including Foundations of Clinical Medicine, a longitudinal program focusing on professionalism and leadership. He plans to spend the rest of his life developing and participating in innovative learning environments that promote the creation of collective wisdom and contribute to environmental sustainability and social justice.

He is clinically active at University Hospitals of Cleveland in the Joseph Foley Elder Health Center at Fairhill Center caring for individuals with concerns about their cognitive abilities as they age. He is working to develop an integrative health practice focused on the healing power of storytelling. He envisioned and cofounded the Greenwall Foundation supported StoryBank, a regional resource for transdisciplinary analysis and utilization of narratives of illness and health that foster community well-being.

His research interests include the neurobiology of what he used to refer to as Alzheimer's disease and related conditions, the development of more effective treatments for individuals with cognitive impairment, including drugs and non-biological interventions, ethical issues in the medical profession and integrative health care systems. He has a particular interest in narrative medicine and has developed a number of programs focusing on the value of reading and writing for cognitive vitality. These include a National Institutes of Health funded project to examine whether reading delays cognitive impairment as we age and various multimedia family interventions to promote remembering. His other current NIH grants focus on quality of life, treatment interventions and genetic testing in dementia.

Friday Lunch and Other Public Affairs Upcoming Topics and Speakers:

March 21: J. Adin "Jay" Mann, Professor of Chemical Engineering: "Peak Oil."

March 28: Bill Marling, Professor of English. "How American is Globalization?"

April 4: Jerry Floersch PhD, LISW, Associate Professor in MSASS, "The Psychosocial and Sociocultural Dimensions of Prescribing Psychiatric Medication to Adolescents."

April 11: David Matthiesen, Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, will lead a discussion on “Energy and Alternative Energy Policy in Ohio.”

April 18: Megan Whalen Turner fiction writer for young adults and author of, Instead Of Three Wishes, The Thief, The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia; Anne Ursu is the author of the novels Spilling Clarence and The Disapparation of James, Joe White Luxenberg Family Professor of Public Policy and Chair, Department if Political Science, Case Western Reserve University, will discuss, "Moral Dilemmas in Politics and Fiction."

The Friday Lunch discussions are held on the lower (ground) level of
Crawford Hall.  Visitors with mobility issues may find it easiest to take advantage of special arrangements we have made.  On most Fridays, a few parking spaces in the V.I.P. lot in between Crawford Hall and Amasa Stone Chapel are held for participants in the lunch discussion. 

Visitors then can avoid walking up the hill to the first floor of Crawford by entering the building on the ground level, through the garage area under the building.  The further door on the left in that garage will be left unlocked during the period before the Friday lunch.  On occasion, parking will be unavailable because of other university events.

For more information about these and other Center for Policy Studies programs, please see

March 4, 2008

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Upcoming Events

Israeli Politics and Palestinian Politics: Internal Pressures and the Prospects for Peace

Abraham Diskin Ph.D., Hebrew University in Jerusalem; Rex Brynen Ph.D., McGill University, Case Western Reserve University. Tuesday, April 8th, 7:30 - 9:00 pm, Ford Auditorium, corner of Adelbert and Euclid Avenue.

The event is co-sponsored by the Center for Policy Studies and the Rosenthal Center for Judaic Studies. For more information click here.

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