Alzheimer’s & Down Syndrome: A Link?

2-Dr-Huntington-PotterOn February 11, 2014 Dr. Huntington Potter, Director of the Anschutz Alzheimer’s Program, discussed the latest findings in the area of Alzheimer’s.

Cutting-edge research spearheaded by Dr. Potter has discovered the same genetic hallmarks in Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s—3 copies of chromosome 21. This cellular mistake triggers a disastrous cycle of plaque-building protein in both groups of patients, though those with Down syndrome start accumulating the protein earlier and Alzheimer’s patients start generating it later. Since 100% of Down patients develop Alzheimer’s-like plaques and tangles in their brains, but only 50% ultimately develop dementia, Dr. Potter’s latest research focuses on whether differences in diet, lifestyle or environment contribute to the Down distinction.

The hope: his work will lead to revolutionary drugs and other therapies for preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease.

In 2012 Denver was thrilled to be able to lure renowned, award-winning scientist, Huntington Potter, PhD, to the CU Anschutz Medical Campus where he has launched a new clinical care center. His lab studies the mechanism by which Alzheimer’s disease and Down syndrome arise.  They research drugs that could ameliorate or prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Previously, Potter studied, researched and taught for 30 years at Harvard. He went on to direct acclaimed Alzheimer’s disease research centers and institutes, where he developed seven new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease in preparation for human trials.  He is the author of more than 100 scientific articles and books, is the holder of 15 U.S. and foreign patents, has sat on scientific advisory and review committees in academia, industry and government, and has received numerous awards for his work.

“Alzheimer’s disease is an immense and increasing problem across the population, and particularly for adults with Down syndrome,” said John J. Sie. “The appointment of Hunt Potter demonstrates that the Crnic Institute is engaged in research that will change the outcome for these individuals.”


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Financial Literacy…No, Really!

A brief testimonial from Eileen’s former class assistant about how this class teaches and empowers people about their investments. An

Submitted by Donna Svendsen, CFP®

Eileen SharkeyAs an observer of the Financial Literacy class taught by Eileen Sharkey, CFP®, I had a first-hand view of how students reacted to the course content and to the instructor. Selecting investments can put most people to sleep, yet Eileen makes it easy to understand and almost amusing when she uses the analogy of shopping for groceries: “We don’t buy broccoli if we don’t know how to cook it or if we don’t like it – even if it is on sale and looks pretty! Why do we buy a financial product that we don’t understand, or don’t like – even if it is well represented with a glossy brochure and a handsome salesman?”

There is much more in this class than selecting investments, too. This introductory class helps students understand the current market and why it’s where it’s at. Eileen, a witty Brit, was educated in London and then in Kansas which gives her a practical and global view of finance. Students appreciate the handouts and worksheets that help them organize their personal financial world and get focused on their own goals.

Session topics also include evaluating insurance needs and risk management, record keeping, financial professionals and how to find who and what you need. One guest speaker presented an ethical discussion about medical care and dying with dignity and Eileen wrapped up the course with information about preserving your wealth and your decisions when you approach the end of life.

The class was well received by students. Comments included:

  • motivating
  • practical
  • exceeded my expectations
  • I’ll bring my spouse next time  

One female student revealed, “I now have more confidence to speak with my own financial advisor!” – a big step for her.

I work with Eileen Sharkey and admit my bias towards her; however, Eileen has me observe her classes to assist and to give her honest feedback and that’s exactly what I do.

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Academy Helps “Rescope” CU Prof’s Webcast

In fall 2012, were you one of the Academy participants who peppered Dr. Darin Toohey with questions after his lecture on short-lived climate forcers, in the CU Science: At the Cutting Edge course? If so, you might have helped shape Darin’s revised presentation on that topic to 4000 online viewers, a few weeks later.Darin Toohey, CU-Boulder, Science classes, adults

Darin recently emailed Academy coordinator Donna Barrow about a live webcast at a State Department outreach event at the Doha (Qatar) climate change conference (COP18). He wrote, “I changed my talk in response to the outstanding questions that I was asked by Academy participants. . . . and I thank your members for helping me ‘rescope’ this talk so that it was useful for a broader audience.”

To learn more about human-originated gases and particles called short-lived climate forcers and Darin’s work to reduce the climate changes they trigger, view his full webcast at

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CU Scientists Star at the Academy

2-Darin-TooheyOne of the most exciting developments in the Academy’s last ten years has been the series CU Science: At the Cutting Edge. Researchers from the science faculty at CU-Boulder, Colorado’s flagship university, have shared their latest discoveries and expertise in areas as diverse as–

  • climate-changing rocket experiments
  • galaxy formation
  • major advances in infertility options
  • fracking’s environmental footprint
  • the millions of bacterial communities thriving inside every human (there IS good news . . . )

CU physicists, chemists, biologists, geologists and other scientists (including Prof. Darin Toohey, pictured here) translate their extensive knowledge into polished multi-media presentations guaranteed to mesmerize and enlighten any eager learner, regardless of his or her educational background.

These veteran professors also clearly relish the mind-stretching Q&A sessions the Academy is known for, often lingering long after each class is over to accommodate every participant’s special inquiries. (To learn more: see the special blog on Prof. Darin Toohey’s thanks for Academy-triggered improvements in his worldwide webcast.)

Collaborating with CU staff, Academy board member Donna Barrow designs and coordinates these series, ensuring a fascinating array of topics each time they are offered. Stay tuned for details on the next series, planned for as early as spring 2014.

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Tech Training Course Challenged by Demand

Scott Henke and Maria Arapaikis’ Tech Training course has proved so popular that it was expanded this past spring from a series of one-hour, drop-in sessions to a full two-hour course running nine weeks. And, shortly after it was offered, that 9-week spring course filled, with late-enrolling participants even agreeing to sit on the floor or stand.

2-Tech-TipsWhether seated or not, virtually everyone arrives at Scott and Maria’s classes frustrated with their tech gadgets–from iPads to Skype and every other software program that can be installed on a PC—and worried about how to protect them. But our participants invariably leave class with enhanced skills and transferable tech savvy.

Scott’s company, Onsite Consulting, offers PC training, PC and network troubleshooting, repair, virus and spyware solutions, free offsite backup, remote emergency help and many other computer services. The company received the 2008 Business of the Year Award. Check it out at

Maria offers tutoring in “All Things Mac” plus iphones and ipads.  Contact her through

During his 27 years as a computer consultant, Scott taught classes for 11 years at Denver Community Schools, as well as serving for 13 years as a technology coordinator at Hamilton Middle School, where he helped students learn about computers and the Internet.

The Academy feels extremely fortunate to have Scott Henke and Maria Arapakis–longtime professionals who are also seasoned teachers—heading up our technology instruction.

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DAM Opens Its Doors to the Academy


One of the Academy’s most treasured community partners, the Denver Art Museum offers our participants an unparalleled, intimate, insiders’ look at the museum’s newest and permanent exhibits every term.  Board member Joanne Mendes has created several
DAM Great Art courses, each with a focus on a different area.  This fall’s Art Sampler at the Denver Art Museum (co-hosted by Dr. Joan Bub) will focus on various parts of the DAM, including the new textile exhibition.  The exhibition, called Spun, is actually a dozen exhibits, all variations on the theme, and it is designed to address a chronic problem at museums: getting visitors to look at their permanent collections. Longtime and first-time fans of this series fill the small class quickly, so register now!

But don’t wait until fall to savor DAM’s current exhibitions. Visit one or all of these great shows—

  • Figure to Field: Mark Rothko in the 1940s
  • Passport to Paris, “bringing together the rock stars of the art world”—Monet, Degas Pissaro, Toulouse-Lautrec and other masters from more than three centuries of French art
  • Spun: Adventures in Textiles, featuring historic and contemporary textiles from an array of cultures

You’ll also want to explore one of the DAM’s best-kept secrets, the Wednesday and Friday Nooner Tour series, available with your general admission ticket. Each tour, from 12:00 to 12:30, focuses on a tempting appetizer from the museum’s 5-star menu of art collections. For upcoming topics in the series, go to the Denver Art Museum’s website.

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Lamont School of Music: Community Partner

2-Newman-CenterThe Academy enjoys its most versatile community partnership with the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver. Outstanding Lamont students and faculty have developed and led numerous innovative courses at the Academy, in addition to offering special free concerts and discounts for events at Lamont’s splendid home, the Newman Center for the Performing Arts on the DU campus.

In our latest collaboration with Lamont, about one hundred Academy members and their guests attended the June 26th chamber concert performed as part of Lamont’s pre-college summer camp for aspiring musicians aged 14 to 18. This event has become a summer tradition for the Academy, as well as a welcome opportunity for Academy participants to hear burgeoning musicians mentored by college faculty.

Lamont’s faculty and graduate students–all accomplished professional instrumentalists, singers and composers—are also key to the Academy’s exciting music curriculum. In spring 2012, Lamont instructor Conrad Kehn, an award-winning composer, tailored a music composition course especially for the Academy —a rarity among lifelong learning institutes. Thanks to Conrad’s expert direction and the assistance of musicians from his Playground chamber ensemble, Academy registrants completed a musical composition, which was then performed in a final concert open to the entire Academy; dozens attended, many surprised and all delighted at the achievements of their fellow students.

It is no surprise that, with an enrollment of 300 music majors and a packed calendar of superb public concerts, the Lamont School of Music was recognized by the City of Denver with the Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, in 2005. For more information on Lamont’s free and affordable concerts, go to or search keyword Lamont School of Music.

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Kehn Plays Around with the Playground

2-Playground-DenverAn award-winning performer, composer, and founding Director of The Playground Ensemble, Conrad Kehn teaches music theory, composition, and music technology at DU’s Lamont School of Music.  He also taught one of the Academy’s most innovative courses, a composing workshop.

Many of Conrad’s Academy classes have featured musicians from and concerts by The Playground, adding to the rich musical experience Conrad brings to all of his courses.

Comprised of Lamont faculty, alumni and area professionals, The Playground performers are dedicated to presenting classical music as a living art form–vibrant, adventurous and relevant to the world we all live in. Their goal is to provide stimulating performances, expand common perceptions of both contemporary music and the chamber ensemble, and nurture a supportive community for this music.

In addition to an annual concert season showcasing recognized composers, they cultivate a thriving local music-composition community and conduct dynamic educational programs for people of all ages.

Now in its sixth year, The Playground’s Colorado Composers Concert series has featured 49 works by 39 different Colorado-based composers including a number of K-12 composers. The ensemble has also performed at many notable venues and festivals, including the Arvada Center, the Denver Art Museum, the International Society of Improvised Music Annual Conference, the National Performing Arts Convention, the Mile High Voltage Festival, and the Denver Music Summit.

In spring 2011 The Playground released its debut CD, Dreams Go Through Me. Key to the project were a number of Colorado-based composers and supporting organizations, such as the Newman Center and Colorado Public Radio.

To alert any composers you know to the opportunity to participate in the Colorado Composers Concert series, or to get involved in other ways, write to The Playground at

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