Federal Funding for Alzheimer's Research

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

The National Institutes of Health has announced that they will fund a second phase of the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). This initiative is a major partnership involving both public and private funding sources, more than 50 research locations, and a target of nearly 1500 research subjects.

The first phase was funded in 2004 and is now following approximately 800 subjects in various states of cognitive health (200 normal controls, 400 with mild cognitive impairment, and 200 with mild Alzheimer's disease). The intention is to thoroughly evaluate cognitive health, track various bio-markers, and study the progression from normal health to Alzheimer's in those subjects who get he disease. Researchers are also closely studying those subjects who do not get the disease as they may offer important clues about preventative strategies.

The second phase of this initiative, ADNI2, has a $40 million commitment from the NIH to be distributed over the next 5 years. This sum will be augmented with an anticipated $25 million in additional funds provided by various private sector sources.

One of the unique aspects of ADNI is the public availability of the research data being collected. To date, more than 1700 researchers have accessed the database and analyzed findings. This massive sharing of resources has been touted as an important catalyst in scientific progress for the field in recent years.

One of the challenges for the ADNI team is to recruit healthy volunteers who wish to participate as research subjects. The potential benefits to volunteers, in terms of state of the art monitoring and care for any emerging problems, are fantastic. For interested readers, more information is available from the NIA Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center at 1-800-438-4380 or www.nia.nih.gov/Alzheimers.

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