Three Sisters And The Fight Against Alzheimer's Disease : Short Wave Nearly a decade ago, Karen Douthitt and her sisters June Ward and Susie Gilliam set out to learn why Alzheimer's disease was affecting so many of their family members. Since then, each sister has found out whether she carries a rare gene mutation that makes Alzheimer's inescapable. Jon Hamilton talks to Emily about the sisters and how all three have found ways to help scientists trying to develop treatments for the disease.

Thoughts or comments? Get in touch — we're on Twitter @NPRShortWave and on email at shortwave@npr.org.

Three Sisters And The Fight Against Alzheimer's Disease

Three Sisters And The Fight Against Alzheimer's Disease

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1123796247/1123958829" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Karen Douthitt (left) found she does not carry the rare genetic mutation for early-onset Alzheimer's dementia, but her older sister June Ward (right) does carry it. Juan Diego Reyes for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Juan Diego Reyes for NPR

Karen Douthitt (left) found she does not carry the rare genetic mutation for early-onset Alzheimer's dementia, but her older sister June Ward (right) does carry it.

Juan Diego Reyes for NPR

Nearly a decade ago, Karen Douthitt and her sisters June Ward and Susie Gilliam set out to learn why Alzheimer's disease was affecting so many of their family members. Since then, each sister has found out whether she carries a rare gene mutation that makes Alzheimer's inescapable. Jon Hamilton talks to Emily about the sisters and how all three have found ways to help scientists trying to develop treatments for the disease.

For thoughts or comments, feel free to get in touch at shortwave@npr.org.

Karen Douthitt (left) with her two older sisters Susie Gilliam (center), and June Ward (right) on the front porch of their childhood home in Swannanoa, NC, on September 6, 2022. Juan Diego Reyes for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Juan Diego Reyes for NPR

Karen Douthitt (left) with her two older sisters Susie Gilliam (center), and June Ward (right) on the front porch of their childhood home in Swannanoa, NC, on September 6, 2022.

Juan Diego Reyes for NPR

Gisele Grayson edited this story for Short Wave and for broadcast. Rebecca Ramirez produced the Short Wave version of this piece. Claudette Lindsay-Habermann and Chad Campbell produced the broadcast version of this story. Gisele Grayson and Jon Hamilton checked the facts.