After the video, read more about the work the Andi and Larry Wolfe Wellness Initiative for Brain Health and the Andi and the Larry Wolfe Research Professorship will support.
Every three seconds, someone in the world develops dementia. In the United States, it affects approximately 5.8 million, with that number projected to explode to 14 million in 2060, and yet, treatments are still limited and only target the disease in later stages, producing marginal results. Eva Feldman, MD, PhD, and researchers at the NeuroNetwork for Emerging Therapies believe that understanding how environmental and dietary factors impact brain health may be critical to developing more effective treatments to slow the progression of (and possibly prevent) dementia.
Enter Andi and Larry Wolfe, two longtime friends and supporters of Dr. Feldman, and the NeuroNetwork of Emerging Therapies, who have stepped up to the plate to fund research into this much-needed area through the Andi and Larry Wolfe Wellness Initiative for Brain Health and the Andi and the Larry Wolfe Research Professorship.
“I’m fascinated by the brain and what the brain can do,” explains Andi. “If I can change the course of Medicine, great. I’m smart enough to know that when you put money into research, you don’t always get a pat on the back, but you have to do the deep dive before you can get the success.”
Philanthropy in STEM is in Andi Wolfe’s blood. Her parents launched the D. Dan and Betty Kahn Michigan-Israel Partnership Conference for Research and Education in 2011, which is how she came to meet Dr. Feldman. It brought Technion faculty members to U-M to discuss science and to get to know their colleagues in the United States. The following year, about two dozen U-M faculty made a trip to Haifa, Israel, for the second symposium, including Dr. Feldman. It was here that she first met Andi and Larry Wolfe.
“I remember at the first presentation in Israel, Andi sat front and center, carefully taking notes. I thought, huh, I wonder if she is a scientist. When we soon spoke, her questions took my breath away, and we ended up becoming fast friends,” remembers Dr. Feldman.
When Andi’s father passed away in 2012, her husband, Larry Wolfe, took over the foundation and has led it to this day. Larry is also the owner and president of Production Tool Supply.
“The scientists, the researchers truly change this world. They make things happen,” Larry remarked.” “They may not succeed all of the time, and sometimes they end up with success way over here when they were trying to go way over there. So, you don’t know where it’s going to lead, but you do know if they don’t try and they don’t do research, we won’t be where we are today. Medicine has advanced so much in the last five to ten years, forget about the last 100 years. We are only at the tip of the iceberg as to what we will be able to do, what we will be able to cure as we go forward.”
The Andi and Larry Wolfe Wellness Initiative for Brain Health will both promote measures for healthy brain aging and foster novel research to enhance wellness for individuals with cognitive impairment, as well as for their caregivers and families. Specifically, it will help support the following projects:
- Characterize brain health in human populations to understand how obesity, diet, and lifestyle promote cognitive complications
- Complete detailed animal studies on saturated fats’ effect on brain chemistry and structure, as well as mitochondria required for normal function
- Examine the links between metabolism and brain health at the cellular and functional levels with both animal models and a cohort of obese patients
- Study the microbiome to determine how different types and quantities of ingested fat impact brain health in animal models and humans
- Understand how healthy fats promote brain health by comparing the mechanism of fat digestion to the effect of the gut environment
Andi Wolfe recently told us: “I’m looking at the stuff now a days and saying wait a minute, this was stuff in science fiction 20 years ago. Now science fiction is reality and I love it.”
It is support from people like Andi and Larry Wolfe that creates this reality, and we are grateful for their generosity.