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Area community, Harvard teaching hospital join forces on brain study

Organizers selected Lakewood Ranch because of its ‘large, multi-generational community and diverse on-site resources to support the health and well-being of its residents.’

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  • | 6:00 a.m. March 5, 2019
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Lakewood Ranch officials have announced a partnership with several prominent medical entities, including a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital, on a pioneering brain study.    

Known as the Lakewood Ranch Study of Brain Health, the initiative is a collaboration between Lakewood Ranch, Massachusetts General Hospital, part of Harvard Medical School, and the Academy for Brain Health and Performance. The kickoff of the program, which officials compare in size and scope to the long-range Framingham Heart study, includes a $1.6 million fundraising campaign. An official kickoff event is scheduled for March 12.  

“A healthy brain is critical to our health and wellbeing, both personal and communal,” according to a statement from the partnership behind the study, being headed up by Stephanie Peabody, a neuropsychologist and founding director of the Academy for Brain Health and Performance. “Yet, compared to other organs in the body, relatively little is known about the factors that shape brain health.”

Officials add that to promote brain health and prevent brain-related concerns — such as Autism, depression, anxiety, addictions, learning disabilities, ADHD, Dementia, strokes and Parkinson’s — which affect one out of every three people worldwide, “breakthrough scientific discoveries are urgently needed.”

Why Lakewood Ranch? Officials with the study cite the master-planned community’s “large, multi-generational community and diverse on-site resources to support the health and well-being of its residents,” calling it “the ideal setting for a ground-breaking study of brain health and performance.”

“Together,” the statement adds, “we will create a multi-disciplinary community of outstanding scientists and clinicians who will work with residents of the Lakewood Ranch community to uncover the factors, both positive and negative, that affect brain health and performance.”

File. One of Lakewood Ranch's many parks.
File. One of Lakewood Ranch's many parks.

Steps to achieve the mission of the partnership, to build a brain healthy Lakewood Ranch, include:

● Generating discoveries needed to enhance brain health globally;

● Establishing infrastructure and platforms that will elevate Lakewood Ranch as the “go to” place for brain health scientists and clinicians working across multiple disciplines;

● Promote Lakewood Ranch as a scientific leader in brain health discovery and innovation locally, nationally, and globally; and

● Increase brain health and performance outcomes at the individual and community level throughout Lakewood Ranch and the region.

The program is being built in three phases. Phase one, which started Jan. 1 and runs through Aug. 30, includes developing infrastructure and raising initial capital. Phase 2, to last eight months, is planning for the pilot study, the release states. Phase 3 includes launching the pilot study, in conjunction with creating the LWR Brain Health Innovation Lab.

The $1.6 million capital campaign will go to support those three phases, say officials. Funds raised in excess will be used for medium- and long-term goals; to hire additional management and study staff; and purchase study equipment.

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