Colorado Poet’s Brain To Be Used To Study Down Syndrome-Alzheimer’s Link

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Gretchen Josephson Down Syndrome Alzheimers
Gretchen Josephson dancing. Her sister Patty is on the left.

Gretchen Josephson of Denver was a shining example of what a woman with Down Syndrome could accomplish. Josephson, who died this spring at the age of 62, was a published poet and spoke internationally. As is common for people with Down Syndrome, she eventually developed Alzheimer's Disease.

Her family recently donated her brain to the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Huntington Potter, who discovered that the chromosomal abnormality seen in Down Syndrome is also found in people with Alzheimer's disease, told Colorado Matters host Andrea Dukakis that Josephson's brain will be used to help develop treatments for people with Alzheimer's.

Potter, who's with the University of Colorado School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology and the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, says everyone with Down Syndrome develops the pathology for Alzheimer's as they grow older, though some may not have clinical symptoms.

Patty McFeeley, a retired pathologist and Gretchen Josephson's sister, helped facilitate the donation along with her other two sisters. She told Dukakis that Josephson's poetry provided a bridge between the Down Syndrome community and the public.