Killam Seminar Series: 'That would be dreadful': The Ethical, Legal, and Social Challenges of Living with Alzheimer’s Disease Biomarker and Genetic Test Results


Speaker: Jason Karlawish, MD

Co-Director, Penn Memory Centre, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA

Registration: available now on Eventbrite

Livestreaming via Vimeo: Vimeo

Abstract: The disease we call Alzheimer’s disease is changing. Once, the definition and thus the diagnosis was based on a clinical assessment. The crux was sort out the causes of a person’s dementia. Now, it is being recast into a biomarker-based diagnosis. A person does not have to have dementia, that is disabling cognitive impairments, to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. They can have mild cognitive impairment or even no cognitive impairment. These events – facilitated by notable advances in technology – have notable clinical and public policy consequences. The disease might be diagnosed at a stage before disability. This affords notable opportunities to clinicians and their patients, including treatment to prevent dementia and planning for the future of their cognitive decline. It also affords notable challenges to self-determination, identity and well-being. This talk presents the results of studies of cognitively unimpaired persons who have learned the results of Alzheimer’s disease genetic and biomarker tests. The studies sought to understand the impact of this knowledge on persons, who they choose to share results with and to contrast how knowledge of a dynamic biomarker of Alzheimer’s disease differs from a static marker of the risk of the disease, amyloid versus ApoE genotype respectively.

The Killam Seminar Series at The Neuro

Supported by the generosity of the Killam Trusts, The Neuro’s Killam Seminar series hosts outstanding guest speakers whose research is of interest to the scientific community at The Neuro and McGill University.

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Contact Information

Sasha Kelly
Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital
sasha.kelly [at]
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