Perspective on Funding for AD Research

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

Amidst all the news stories about the science of Alzheimer's disease, there are also stories about it's economic toll on our health care system and stories about the allocation of research dollars aimed explaining the disease and developing treatments. This week, the NIH released a statement about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and how some of its funds are directed at the Alzheimer's problem.

Overall, it is an encouraging piece of news citing the fact that more than 100 Alzheimer's related grants, aimed at identifying risk factors, improving diagnostics, isolating bio-markers, conducting trials, and developing new therapeutic agents, were funded through the act. Specific details were provided for the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) which will receive $24 million in funds, and the Alzheimer’ Disease Genetics Consortium (ADGC) which will receive about $5.4 million in funds. Certainly these are large grants and represent opportunities to advance the science.

However, this news should be considered against the larger funding context that is also discussed frequently in the news. The big picture is painted clearly by Harry Johns, CEO of the National Alzheimer's Association, through his daily comments to constituents across the country.

A summary in The Detroit News on Monday makes his point. The NIH awarded $6B to cancer research last year. They awarded a further $4 billion for cardiovascular disease and $3 billion for HIV/AIDS. In comparison, the NIH funds for Alzheimer research was $428 million.

With this perspective, it is clear that the potentially devastating impact of Alzheimer's disease on the boomer generation is not reflected in the funding support of the federal government.

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