The MIND Center at the University of Mississippi Medical Center recently hosted “A Night with Beautiful Minds” to honor Dr. Tommy Prewitt, a retired UMMC physician who is battling early-onset dementia.
The Oct. 17 event highlighted Prewitt’s love of art by featuring visual, culinary, musical and performing artists while raising awareness and more than $225,000 to support the MIND Center’s mission to stop Alzheimer’s. The evening featured an interactive dinner led by food writer, restaurateur and chef Robert St. John and renowned watercolorist Wyatt Waters.
“Alzheimer’s and related dementias is, without question, the biggest challenge facing medicine and one of the biggest challenges facing our society over the next century,” said Dr. Tom Mosley, Hughes Chair and director of the center.
“There’s a saying, ‘Where words fail, music speaks.’ Art touches the mind and is powerful and magical in a way we don’t understand. Art can’t stop or cure dementia, but it’s an important component of the therapy for people with dementia and helps them to stay connected with their memories.”
Prewitt received his medical degree in 1988 from UMMC. After completing a three-year fellowship with the National Institutes of Health, he returned to the Medical Center to complete his residency in general surgery, graduating in 1995.
He served the Medical Center and its community for many years as an associate professor of surgery and director of health policy, practicing as a breast surgical oncologist, an educator and a health policy adviser to the chancellor.
In 2015, Prewitt was diagnosed at the MIND Center at age 54. His wife, Cissy Primos Prewitt, a prominent Mississippi artist, helped him discover joy and purpose through painting.
“Tommy loved being involved with The MIND Center and this fundraiser so that he could show that even people in their 50s get dementia,” Cissy Prewitt said. “He wants to be able to open the eyes of other people through talking about his disease and sharing his experience.”
A group of friends and close colleagues proposed an event in honor of Prewitt and to raise money for a cause he and his family care for so deeply: finding a way to stop Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The MIND Center is a national leader in Alzheimer’s research and clinical care and is backed by the state’s only academic medical center. Launched in 2010, the MIND Center uses pioneering research, state-of-the-art brain imaging and powerful genetic technologies to discover the causes and find new methods of treatment and prevention for Alzheimer’s and other dementias, which affect more than 5.8 million Americans.
For information on giving to the MIND Center, visit https://umc.edu/mindcenter/
By Bill Dabney