BRNI’s Morgantown Muse arts’ event benefits Alzheimer’s research

Published: October 15, 2007 4:00 PM
Morgantown, W.Va. – Researchers, caregivers and community members gathered at the Hotel Morgan, Sunday, Oct. 14, for “Morgantown Muse,” a community arts event benefiting the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute (BRNI).

“We are making discoveries that impact the diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders,” BRNI Executive Director and CEO Mark Cochran, Ph.D., said. “We’re excited at the prospect of the Morgantown community working with us to make that happen.”

The event was attended by approximately 100 people and featured some leading members of the Morgantown arts community.

“The Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, the latest jewel in the WVU and Morgantown medical crowns, extends promising potential for a solution to memory disorders,” said keynote speaker and pianist James Benner, professor emeritus of the West Virginia University College of Creative Arts’ Division of Music. “Great strides have been made in finding answers to problems of mental deterioration, but the end is not in clear sight, in fact, it is barely visible.”

Artwork created by Morgantown-native Harriett Wiedebusch Raese, who has Alzheimer’s disease, was displayed and auctioned to benefit research at the Institute.

Her son, Robert Raese, donated the artwork to BRNI to celebrate his mother’s life and contributions to Morgantown, and to help support the research conducted at BRNI.

Mrs. Raese received her Bachelor of Science degree from West Virginia University’s College of Creative Arts in 1960. She studied at the Parsons School of Design in New York City. Raese is the wife of the late Richard “Dyke” Raese.

WVU College of Creative Arts Dean Bernard Schultz, Ph.D., served as auctioneer for the event, providing commentary on Mrs. Raese’s art. The artworks ranged from landscape paintings to architectural sketches.

Local opera singer Elizabeth Zell, performed a trio of songs including "Art is Calling for Me,"from The Enchantress. Zell was accompanied by pianist Sun Jung Lee.

Morgantown Muse committee members include Ralph Bean, James Benner, Ro Brooks, John Fahey, Meryl Pinsof Goldfarb, Jerald A. Goldfarb, Dr. Richard J. Ham, Zella L. Horseman, Alexander Macia, Robert Raese, Rita Tanner and Stephen Tanner.

BRNI; Steptoe and Johnson, PLLC; Centra Bank; Wells Fargo Insurance Services; Meryl and Jerald Goldfarb; and the WVU Center on Aging co-sponsored the event. Crescent Frame Shoppe provided custom framing for the art.

More than 47,000 West Virginians suffer from the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Scientists and researchers at BRNI are investigating how we can begin fighting and treating Alzheimer’s in its earliest stages,” Daniel Alkon, M.D., BRNI scientific director, told the group. “We’ve made great strides but we still have so much more to learn before we can begin seeing a significant improvement in patient care.”

BRNI was created in 1999 as a non-profit research institute dedicated to the study of human memory disorders. BRNI’s primary mission is to accelerate neurological discoveries from the lab, including diagnostic tools and treatments, directly to patients who are suffering from neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's. U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia founded the institute in memory of his mother, who died of Alzheimer's disease.

BRNI’s distinctive new facility is under construction on the WVU Health Sciences’ campus. Completion is expected for spring of 2008.

For more information on how to help in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, contact BRNI at (304) 293-3962, or visit

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