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Janet Reno and Mark McEwen Headline Final Bicentennial Lecture at the Hippodrome

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

 Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA thanks the speakers (from left): Dr. Weiner, Janet Reno, Mark McEwen, Dr. Bob Arnot and Nancy Wexler.

The Bicentennial Lecture Series at the Hippodrome Theater concluded September 24 with a presentation on the central nervous system from the point of view of both doctors and patients. Once again, the host was television correspondent Dr. Bob Arnot. "I keep coming back because of the great speakers, like Mark McEwen (who was once his colleague at CBS). He taught me everything I know about television."


Dr. William Weiner, professor and chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, was the first presenter. Dr. Weiner is a renowned Parkinson's expert and primary author of The American Academy of Neurology's new guidelines for diagnosing and treating Parkinson's disease. After giving a brief overview of Parkinson's, he detailed the cutting-edge work his department is doing in the treatment of that disease and other movement disorders.


Speaker Nancy Wexler, PhD, was part of the team of scientists who discovered the chromosomal test that allows those at risk for Huntington's disease to find out if they will develop this hereditary, untreatable and fatal brain disorder. This work is quite personal to Dr. Wexler, who lost her mother to Huntington's when she was 21 and who has a one in two chance of developing the disease herself. "My talk is called 'The View from the Bridge' because I consider myself a bridge between the science and the family," says Dr. Wexler. "You really have to have the participation of both to treat disease, and I think that's what the medical school has fostered by having these seminars."


Family support was critical to former network TV weatherman Mark McEwen after he was struck down by a massive stroke a year and a half ago. In his speech he credited his wife, two daughters and twin sons with giving him the strength to endure the long and sometimes frustrating physical rehabilitation that brought him back to television from the brink of death. "My doctor told me nine of 10 people who have the stroke I had die," McEwen reveals. "I'm number 10. What I knew about a stroke before I had one was nothing. What I know now is a lot," he adds. "And I think it's important to get the word out. People need to have hope. This is hard, but they can come back. There is life on the other side of a stroke. I'm an example of that."


The Honorable Janet Reno is also living in the public eye with a debilitating disease. The first female Attorney General of the United States, she was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease just two years after taking that office. Rather than hide her condition, she chose to go public, educating the press and the public about the disease, while letting them see that it did not have to interfere with normal life. "You can live with Parkinson's and enjoy life," insists Reno, who told the story of how she once outdistanced her FBI detail while kayaking, a sport she still enjoys.


The next bicentennial event is a live presentation of "Prairie Home Companion" at the Hippodrome October 13, which is sold out. To find out about the other remaining bicentennial events, please visit http://www.sombicentennial.umaryland.edu/ or call the bicentennial hotline at (410) 706-2007.

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 Dean Reece held a reception before the lecture to welcome the Honorable Ms. Reno and her fellow speakers.

 Delegate Bill Frank was also among the guests at the dean's reception.

 Dr. Arnot was thrilled to catch up with McEwen, with whom he worked at CBS.

 Ms. Reno was welcomed back to Baltimore by Dr. Weiner, whose patients she has spoken with in the past about her Parkinson's experience.

 Dr. Wexler catches up with Ms. Reno before they take the stage.

 Bicentennial banners adorn the stage of the Hippodrome.

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