Darrell K Royal Research Fund grants $250,000 to Dell Medical School

Nataleah Small

Dell Medical School will continue research and care for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia with support from a $250,000 grant from the Darrell K Royal Research Fund for Alzheimer’s Disease.

Kristin Tommey, Dell Medical School senior director of campaign strategy, said the funds have not been allocated to a specific project. She said it will be used at the discretion of the dean of Dell Medical School.

Last September, the DKR Fund raised over $1 million at the 2018 4th & Goal Gala, an annual event hosted by the foundation to honor Darrell K Royal and support Alzheimer’s research. According to the official website, this money provided additional grants to the UT’s Dell Medical School, O’Donnell Brain Institute at the University of Texas Southwestern and the Edith T. Royal Caregiver initiative, which supports services for families and caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s.

“We have a wonderful relationship with both Dell and UTSW and look forward to a long-term relationship with both,” Debbie Hanna, president of the DKR fund, said in an email.

Clay Johnston, dean of Dell Medical School, said gifts like this are important, because they help smaller research projects make progress to secure additional funding.

“Most places require these long, carefully vetted proposals where you almost know the answer before you get the money,” Johnston said. “Whereas this one allows us the flexibility to use it in a lot of different ways.”

Dell Medical School also receives funding from the Texas Alzheimer’s Research and Care Consortium, said David Paydarfar, Dell Medical School neurology department chair. He said some of those funds are being used to research the risk factors for people with cognitive dysfunction that lead to major setbacks after a hospital stay for a minor procedure.

People with cognitive dysfunction often end up in the hospital to take care of common, preventable problems, such as dehydration. Researchers are developing technologies to track hydration status for people living at home, so they do not get to the point where they need medical attention, Paydarfar said.

If the research proves fruitful, Paydarfar said the DKR funding may be applied to this project.  

Johnston said a partnership has developed between the DKR Fund and Dell Medical School, because the school is connected to the Austin community, and the fund has been supportive of their initiatives to advance patient care.

“There’s no way we can be an ivory tower,” Johnston said. “The community is part of our DNA.”

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to more accurately reflect the work the Darrell K Royal Research Fund grant will support.