Founding Sanders-Brown Center on Aging

Dr. Markesbery

Dr. Markesbery led the UK Sanders-Brown Center on Aging from its founding in 1979 until his death in 2010. He was also director of the UK-Alzheimer's Disease Research Center and was recognized as an international leader in research to advance the understanding of Alzheimer's disease.

Remembering Dr. Markesbery - click here for links to published recollections/tribute articles.

Each year, the Markesbery Symposium is held to commemorate the life and work of Dr. Markesbery. For more details about the symposium, click here.

History of the Center

The University officially initiated its aging program in 1963 with the formation of a council on aging. In 1972, as a result of a grant from the Eleanor and John Y. Brown Jr. Foundation, funding was obtained for the construction of the current Sanders-Brown Research Building and, with additional funding from the Commonwealth of Kentucky, a program in biomedical research was implemented within the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center. In 1979, the center opened its doors and emerged as a national leader in efforts to improve the quality of life for the older adults through research and education. It is one of the original ten NIH-funded Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers. 

Center's Mission and Efforts

The center was established to identify and study those issues that directly influence how older persons live today and will live tomorrow. The center's research efforts are directed at improving the lives of older individuals by searching for the causes, treatment and cures of dementing neurodegenerative diseases and stroke and by the study of physical and social environments that lead to improved health. Center efforts also focus on education and community service. For example, there are specialized clinical services for geriatric patients, training programs for health care professionals, and self-enrichment activities for older persons.

Center's Goal

A major goal of the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging is to support life-long growth and development. To accomplish this goal, we sponsor a wide range of research, service, and educational activities. We hope that these efforts enrich the environment for those who are old today and will benefit those who grow older tomorrow.

The center is directed by Linda J. Van Eldik, PhD, professor of neuroscience.


Awarded a $1-million grant from the Eleanor and John Y. Brown Jr. Foundation, with matching funds from the state of Kentucky, and additional funds from the University of Kentucky for construction of the Sanders-Brown Research Building
The 32,000 square-foot Sanders-Brown building opens with three faculty members and a budget of $250,000; Dr. William Markesbery is named director.
Awarded a groundbreaking, multi-million dollar program and project grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Institute on Aging (NIA) that was continuously funded through March 2014.
Named one of the original 10 NIH/NIA funded Alzheimer's Disease Centers in the nation. Also became one of 19 initial national geriatric education centers.
Designated a Center of Excellence in Stroke by the Kentucky legislature, and named a Kentucky Center of Excellence
Initiated normal longitudinal control study with subjects who are followed yearly and have agreed to brain autopsy; 700 volunteers are in the cohort; 1,500 brain autopsies have been performed;14,000 biospecimens sent worldwide to support research
Another 34,000 square feet added to the original building through funds from the federal, private, and university level
2010 Dr. Linda Van Eldik named the second center director upon the death of Dr. Markesbery
19 faculty members; 11 faculty associates; 75 staff members and students; 9 endowed chairs/professorships; $8 million in NIH grants; Several gift accounts to support cutting-edge research
NIH funding to Sanders-Brown increased from $13.3 million to $23.4 million in one year, a remarkable 75 percent increase in funding
Expanded 15,000 square foot Sanders-Brown Memory Clinic opens at UK HealthCare's Turfland Campus