By Associated Press - Saturday, October 4, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A Jackson businessman has donated $1 million to the University of Mississippi Medical Center to study Alzheimer’s disease.

The donation from John Palmer puts fundraising for UMMC’s Memory Impairment and Neurodegenerative Dementia Research Center over the $10 million goal that was set when the center opened.

A Corinth native who attended Ole Miss on a basketball scholarship in the 1950s, he led the SkyTel pager company before he sold it. A longtime Republican donor and former ambassador to Portugal, he now invests through GulfSouth Capital.

Palmer has chaired the MIND Center’s board since its creation and has donated to it before. His wife and mother both died from Alzheimer’s. He curtailed his term as ambassador and returned to the United States when his wife developed the disease while he was posted in Lisbon.

“I am convinced that continued support from the private sector will help our UMMC researchers find effective treatments for this disease,” Palmer said.

The MIND Center studies dementia risk factors, genetics and the links between Alzheimer’s and other diseases, as well as offering treatment to patients with dementia. Dr. Thomas Mosley, the center’s director, says the donation will help UMMC offer dementia care to rural parts of the state through video conferencing, as well as attract more researchers.

Palmer’s donation was one of the first to be channeled through the Manning Family Fund for a Healthier Mississippi, a program through which former Ole Miss quarterback Archie Manning and his wife Olivia Manning are raising money for the University of Mississippi Medical center.

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