We at the John Douglas French Foundation for Alzheimer's Disease read with great excitement The Times' article ("15 New Doctors With a Mission: Legacy of Watts," June 3) on the graduation of the first class at Charles Drew Medical College. It is particularly encouraging to see a group of medical students trained with a commitment to the poor.
It was sad for us to read Dean Keith quoted as saying that Drew does not turn out graduates with an interest in Alzheimer's disease. The insinuation that Alzheimer's disease is not a problem of the poor is both incorrect and insulting to the patients and families afflicted by this devastating illness.
Over 3 million Americans are affected by this progressive disease of the nervous system. It is the fourth leading cause of death in our country and affects both the rich and poor with equal severity. Even more disturbing, many in our elderly population with treatable diseases are misdiagnosed as having Alzheimer's disease.
We are disappointed to see a dean at a medical school belittle a serious problem of the aged at a time when it is just beginning to receive proper attention. It is no longer acceptable to graduate students from a medical school without a knowledge and expertise in this terrible disease.
DOROTHY KIRSTEN FRENCH
BRUCE L. MILLER MD