When Gainesville native Dr. B. Joe Wilder decided to pursue medical school in the early 1950s, the University of Florida would have been his first choice — except the UF College of Medicine did not open until 1956.
Instead, Wilder left his hometown to earn his medical degree at Duke University, serve two years in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and complete surgical residency training at the Coral Gables Veterans Affairs Hospital.
But Wilder’s professional journey eventually led him back to UF, where he returned in 1962 to begin his neurological training and later joined the neurology faculty. Wilder, an emeritus professor of neurology and neuroscience, retired in 1994 as chief of the neurology service at UF.
More than 20 years later, he and his wife, Eve, remain passionate about neurology research in areas like neurophysiology, epilepsy and memory-related disorders. Understanding the growing urgency for a breakthrough in research for diseases like Alzheimer’s, which places a heavy burden on patients and caretakers alike, the couple established the B.J. and Eve Wilder Professorship in Alzheimer’s Disease at the University of Florida.
“Alzheimer’s disease is extremely important because of our aging population,” Wilder said. “We know very little about it, and we have no magic drug to prevent or even alter it.”
The UF College of Medicine professorship — the third to be funded by the Wilders’ charitable organization, The B.J. and Eve Wilder Family Foundation Inc. — reinforces the Wilders’ desire for finding a cure for neurological diseases. Previously, the couple formed The B.J. and Eve Wilder Center for Excellence in Epilepsy Research at the McKnight Brain Institute of UF.
The Wilders hope the latest professorship will spawn innovative clinical and translational research in Alzheimer’s and dementia, leading to future treatments, therapies and ultimately — a cure.
“We’re looking forward to the future development of this department. It has had such a wonderful history and has really grown under Dr. Michael Okun (MD ’96),” Wilder said. “We love the University of Florida, and it has been a wonderful experience to be affiliated with the university since 1962.”