‘The Nun Study’: Lecturer speaks about brain research project

April 2010 Posted in Your Health

Sr. Catherine BertrandA renowned study of Alzheimer’s Disease and brain health will be discussed May 11, by Sr. Catherine Bertrand at the 14th annual Sister Marilyn Schwab Memorial Lecture. The event is free and open to all.
Sr. Catherine, of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, will speak on “The Nun Study – Educators in Life – and in Death.”

Sponsored by Shalom Prayer Center and the Providence Benedictine Nursing Center Foundation, the lecture will be at 7 p.m. in the Benedictine Sisters’ Agatha Hess Hall in the Hospitality Center, 840 S. Main St., Mount Angel. This is an opportunity to learn more about the Nun Study and its implications for everyday living.

The Nun Study began in 1986 with the Sisters of Mankato, Minn., and grew to include more than 600 sisters of the U.S. provinces of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, who offered to donate their brains for research purposes after death.

The Nun Study was developed by Dr. David Snowdon. The research was considered groundbreaking in
linking early education and mental complexity with brain health.

Sr. Catherine, who is a member and former provincial leader of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, will talk about the project and how it came to be.

She will also relate some of the ongoing studies of the School Sisters and discuss the future of the Nun Study, which has now been going on for 24 years. Researchers hope that in future years a second phase of the study will lead to discoveries about other brain conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease and stroke.

As provincial leader in her congregation, Sr. Catherine served as the chair of the SSND Leadership Conference and the liaison to the Nun Study. She was involved in moving the study back to the University of Minnesota and engaging in discussions about the next phase of the research work.

She also has extensive experience in ministry work, including teaching, prison ministry and pastoral work, and has been a speaker and facilitator, nationally and internationally.

An innovative and research-based approach was also central to the work of Sr. Marilyn Schwab, OSB, who was a pioneer in the field of long-term care nursing. The Schwab Memorial Lecture highlights her legacy of innovation and inspiration in health care. Under her leadership, the Benedictine Nursing Center (which became part of the Providence Health System in 1998) earned a national reputation as a leader in progressive care for the elderly and chronically ill.

Sr. Marilyn also served as prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Mount Angel. She passed away in 1984 at the age of 47 after a lengthy struggle with cancer. Her journal, which details the last months of her life, was published following her death and will be available at the lecture.

For more information or directions to the Benedictine Sisters Hospitality Center and Agatha Hess Hall, call 503-845-6773 or 503-845-6841, or email shalom@mtangel.net.

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