UCSF's dementia effort launches with YouTube

SAN FRANCISCO: The University of California, San Francisco, and YouTube launched a collaborative online campaign on June 16 to help spread awareness about dementia.

SAN FRANCISCO: The University of California, San Francisco, and YouTube launched a collaborative online campaign on June 16 to help spread awareness about dementia.

The "Defeat Dementia" campaign, which includes a YouTube Channel, widget, and a Facebook group, is aiming to provide the general audience with basic knowledge about the dementia disease, but also plans to inform younger generations about symptoms, treatments, care plans, and clinical trials.

Ensuring that patients are being diagnosed sooner and participating in more clinical trials and research projects until a cure is discovered is the main goal of the campaign, according to Bruce Miller, director of the UCSF Memory and Aging Center (MAC). The budget was not disclosed.

Links to a clinical trial database are included on the Know More Now widget.

"We've been watching how there seems to be a paradigm shift," said Caren Browning, VP at New York-based The Morris & King Company, which is providing support to UCSF for the ongoing campaign. "... It's a transformation of how medical research and philanthropic outreach is conducted."

The majority of Morris & King's media outreach has been concentrated on the tech beat, including pitches to Silicon Valley blogs and publications, as well as the digital desks at national dailies and magazines, said Aimee Levine, the assistant vice chancellor of public affairs at UCSF. The university's PR team has focused on outreach to medical and health publications.

"We want to raise awareness in a much bigger, broader way," Levine added.

Defeat Dementia builds on the "Fight for Mike" fundraising initiative that launched in June 2007 after Apple and Netscape veteran Mike Homer was diagnosed with Creutzfeldt Jakob disease (CJD), a rare form of dementia. It is led by Ron Conway, Silicon Valley investor, and William Campbell, chairman of Intuit and has raised $7 million for CJD research at UCSF where Homer is receiving treatment.

Future plans for "Defeat Dementia" include adding real-time conferences using UCSF physicians through a partnership with Veodia, a video-technology company based in San Mateo, CA, Levine said.

The two-minute videos, which include information about frontotemporal dementia, CJD, Parkinson's disease, ALS, and Alzheimer's disease, were filmed by MAC, Miller said, adding that the center also hopes to introduce patient videos to the channel.

This is the first time that UCSF has used social media for clinical trial outreach, Miller noted.

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