Genesis Brain Health to open in September
Andrew Dougherty and Mike Mursten, two men who share a passion to combat Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), have founded the Genesis Brain Health Institute to offer a medically based program aimed at baby boomers that has been shown to delay, and in some cases even reverse, cognitive decline. “Current medical studies have conclusively shown that a lifestyle of exercise, proper nutrition, brain utilization and stress management can delay the onset of cognitive decline,” said Andrew Dougherty, co-founder and President of Genesis.
With the current science on the brain and memory loss as their guide, they are offering a multi-faceted program aimed at delaying cognitive decline, beginning in September. The approach begins with a complete medical assessment, and includes programs with an educational series on topics critical to brain health including exercise, nutrition, stress management, and brain utilization.
Genesis offers the first program with a multi-disciplinary approach to brain health in East Tennessee, according to Dougherty and Mursten. Wellness professionals from many fields will be working together to provide clients with the information and expertise to achieve optimal brain health.
“What we have found is that baby boomers do have general knowledge about health and wellness, but lack the specific knowledge and tools to implement it into their daily lives,” said Mike Mursten, co-founder and CEO. “The Genesis program is a practical, medically based program to give you the tools to fill your tool box.”
Dougherty and Mursten, each with grandmothers who had Alzheimer’s disease, have seen first-hand the suffering that goes along with cognitive decline and AD.
“I’ve seen that Alzheimer’s and cognitive impairment can really cripple the healthcare system,” Dougherty said. “The cost of care for those individuals is estimated to be in excess of $180 billion dollars in the United States alone. That number is projected to jump dramatically as baby boomers age. If we can delay the onset of AD for five years, we can save our community hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Not only is this very important for families and individuals who suffer from this disease, it is also important for our society and will make a huge difference.”
Dougherty co-founded Medical Interactive Education (Medinteract), with his father, Dr. John H. Dougherty Jr., medical director of the Cole Neuroscience Center at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. Medinteract is a health education organization that provides the latest research and information about brain wellness, emphasizing computer-based early diagnosis of AD and related dementias. Andrew and Dr. Dougherty collaborated to publish the book, Better Brain Health: The Key to Your Six Cognitive Domains, which serves as a cornerstone to the Genesis program.
Dr. Ryan Unger, co-founder of Faculty Physicians, will serve as the medical director of the Genesis Brain Health Institute. “I am very excited to be a part of Genesis Brain Health Institute,” he said. “We have a unique opportunity to employ what we already know about brain health and an obligation to research that will contribute to prevention of cognitive decline.”
Dr. LeAnne Dougherty, a licensed clinical social worker and Dougherty’s mother, will work with participants to develop stress management techniques, another key to keeping the brain healthy. “Stress and anxiety are often overlooked when looking at brain health, but they are two of the most important components. I look forward to giving the program participants the tools necessary to improve and maintain their brain health through the management of stress and anxiety,” reflects Dr. Dougherty. Licensed nutritionists, massage therapists and yoga teachers are part of the services.
Andrew Dougherty will focus on brain utilization, where the emphasis will be not just on brain games but on continuing to use processes that stimulate the brain, such as thinking strategically and exploring new skills and new subjects.
The institute is located on Knoxville’s Dowell Springs medical campus adjacent to the health and wellness center at Provision Healthcare, a world-class outpatient cancer and wellness center featuring the Provision Center for Proton Therapy and including comprehensive diagnostic imaging services, traditional radiation therapy, a physical therapy center and clinical trials through the campus’s biomedical research program.
Mursten and Dougherty met six years ago, a result of their mutual interest in Alzheimer’s and dementia. Mursten is president and managing partner of The Courtyards Senior Living, with eight facilities specializing in Alzheimer’s and dementia care in East Tennessee, including Knoxville and Oak Ridge.
“We have a family history of Alzheimer’s, and that has motivated me to want to understand it,” Mursten said. Research has convinced him that a preventative approach is the only solution at this time, one that will benefit individuals at risk, as well as family. “In our assisted living communities, caring for people living with us is one component of what we do. We are also caring for the families, helping them through emotionally difficult times.”
With an MBA from Harvard Business School, Mursten has entrepreneurial experience in the fields of hospitality, health care, real estate, construction and corporate finance.
Dougherty has had an interest in Alzheimer’s for 22 years. Before that, he remembers his grandmother as she progressed from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s. Dougherty started his research and interest in Alzheimer’s Disease by volunteering for an Adult Day Center run by the organization now known as Alzheimer’s Tennessee then went on to work at the Brain Bank, a collaboration between Alzheimer’s Tennessee and the University of Tennessee, researching the epidemiology behind Alzheimer’s disease.
He earned an MBA from UT, with a concentration in finance, innovation and entrepreneurship, to support his efforts to combat Alzheimer’s through education on brain health from a business perspective. Dougherty has given talks on Alzheimer’s and brain health here and across the country. He has conducted thousands of Alzheimer’s screenings and trained others in screening.
A 2014 research study that grabbed Mursten’s attention involved a 67-year-old woman who considered suicide when memory loss began interfering with her work and causing her to become disoriented. She had watched her mother, suffering from escalating dementia, decline for years in a nursing home before her death.
Her participation in a small study of a new, personalized and comprehensive program to reverse memory loss by Dr. Dale E. Bredesen, at the University of California at Los Angeles and Buck Institute for Research on Aging, resulted in abatement of her symptoms after three months, according to an article in the September 2014 journal Aging.
The study was one of the first to indicate that memory loss in patients with mild cognitive impairment and the early phase of Alzheimer’s may be reversed, with improvement sustained, following a program that includes diet changes, brain stimulation, exercise, sleep optimization, vitamins and certain drugs, and other steps that affect brain chemistry. The study noted that while the burden falls on individuals to follow the complex program, the side effects of the program include improved health, in contrast to side effects from many drugs.
For more information on the Genesis Brain Health Institute, see the web site at www.genesisbrain.com.