Lakewood Ranch tapped to become epicenter of neurological research with Harvard teaching hospital



By  – Reporter, Tampa Bay Business Journal

The 31,000-acre, master-planned community that’s home to more than 36,000 residents will someday be the place where a long-term brain health study will be conducted.

Health care leaders spearheading research for what they call “The Brain Health Initiative at Lakewood Ranch,” including professionals at the Boston-based Academy for Brain Health and Performance, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School teaching hospital, selected Lakewood Ranch as their site.

“The big focus is on lifestyle behaviors that support optimizing, increasing brain health protective factors and decreasing risk factors,” neuropsychologist Stephanie Peabody said to media members on Tuesday during the launch of the initiative.

Peabody conceived the initiative nearly a year ago. “The initiative is about building an infrastructure so the community has the infrastructure in place that can be measured and replicated.”

Researchers will conduct a long-term study of participating Lakewood Ranch residents, measuring their health and wellness from stress levels and sleeping patterns to nutrition and emotional well-being. The group collected more than 450 responses from residents who identified health care goals and priorities.

Lakewood Ranch was selected due to its multigenerational residents, promotion of a healthy lifestyle and business community. Researchers will study the individuals for decades. The number of individuals who will be studied is not determined yet.

The study is inspired by the Framingham Heart Study, which is accredited with finding the effects of smoking on the heart and data on heart attacks.

Leaders are trying to raise $1.6 million to kick off the initiative for the next phase.

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