A Champion in the Fight to End Alzheimer’s

Today’s guest blog is from Phyllis Ferrell, Lilly’s Vice President, Global Alzheimer’s Disease Platform Team.

“Individual success is a myth. No one succeeds all by herself.”

These inspiring words were spoken by Pat Summitt, legendary NCAA coach. With her passing, the world lost not just a giant in the world of basketball, but a champion in the fight against Alzheimer’s. Growing up in the Midwest and going to college in Indiana, basketball was all around me – I even married a coach! – and Coach Summitt was a female role model of leadership as well as a hero. She oversaw a transformative time in women’s basketball and broke barriers as the winningest coach in NCAA history. Her diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s in 2011 was an upsetting interruption to a career defined by excellence.

Following her diagnosis, Summitt immediately developed a game plan to take on Alzheimer’s. Just months after learning she had Alzheimer’s, Coach Summitt established the Pat Summitt Foundation to fund research to end the disease. Today, the foundation raises awareness about Alzheimer’s and supports services for patients, their families and caregivers.

Coach Summitt’s work to find treatments for Alzheimer’s helped define it as one of the greatest health challenges of our time. Her battle with Alzheimer’s also sheds light on the disease’s disproportionate impact on women. Of people over 65 years old living with the disease, more than two thirds are women.

No one person will succeed in stopping Alzheimer’s on their own. This is a team effort and Lilly is excited to be a player on the court. Coach Summitt’s legacy serves as an inspiration to work together in the fight to end Alzheimer’s. In fact, Lilly has partnered with Knoxville-based manufacturer PETNET Solutions, Inc. in the fight against Alzheimer’s. This is just one of many partnerships we have invested in to discover new treatments for Alzheimer’s.

Pat, your legacy on and off the court will never be forgotten. You have always led with passion and integrity, and we will continue this fight against Alzheimer’s with that same focus. The challenge is immense, but not as great as the need.


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