Philanthropists across the USA answered the call to accelerate the pace of Alzheimer’s research by giving an unprecedented $109 million to the Alzheimer’s Association for research, it was announced today at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference® (AAIC®) 2018 in Chicago. Private philanthropy has enabled the Association to increase the pace of innovative research funding commitments to $160 million for more than 400 best-in-field projects in 21 countries.
“The only way we will achieve the national goal of effectively treating and preventing Alzheimer’s disease by 2025 is through research, and that is why we have led the charge to increase both public and private funding of Alzheimer’s research,” said Alzheimer’s Association President and CEO Harry Johns. “Research funding is the fuel for discovery and has changed the trajectory of heart disease, HIV and many cancers, and we are confident that this funding will do the same for Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Association is leading the way to ensure that the robust research pipeline has the money needed to make critical discoveries that will lead us to fulfill the national goal.”
Since 2014, nearly 140 donors, including individuals, corporations and organizations, made gifts ranging from $100,000 to $5 million for research to the Alzheimer’s Association via its philanthropic initiative Step Up the Pace: Accelerating Alzheimer’s Research.
Dick Kipper of Woody Creek, Colorado, and John Beuerlein of Clayton, Missouri, served as co-chairs of the Step Up the Pace’s first phase. “I have been active in this cause for more than two decades, and the level of enthusiasm and commitment over the past four years has been unprecedented. Donors are eager to partner with the Alzheimer’s Association because of the strategic focus of the organization to accelerate research and fund new opportunities quickly in order to fuel the discovery this cause so desperately needs,” Kipper said.
The Alzheimer’s Association is the largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s disease research in the world. It is also the nonprofit with the highest impact in Alzheimer’s disease research worldwide, with its impact exceeded only by that of the U.S. and Chinese governments, according to data compiled by Thomson Reuters InCites. By increasing private philanthropy, the Association has doubled its annual funding of research projects, advancing discovery science, early detection and diagnosis, treatment and prevention.
Through Step Up the Pace, private philanthropy has enabled, expanded and enhanced 10 large-scale research projects. These include clinical trials of an innovative “drug cocktail” to treat Alzheimer’s and drug trials designed to prevent dementia symptoms before they occur. Funded studies also include hundreds of smaller-scale investigations vetted by an international network of 6,000 dementia scientists.
The announcement comes within weeks of the U.S. Senate and House Appropriations Committees’ approval of a more than $400 million increase for Alzheimer’s and dementia research funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which Alzheimer’s Association advocates have been calling for. If signed into law, this will mark the fourth consecutive year of historic increases and bring total federal funding of Alzheimer’s research to $2.3 billion annually.
“The dramatic expansion in government funding requires an equally dramatic increase in projects to feed the pipeline,” John Beuerlein added. “The Alzheimer’s Association has an unparalleled track record for identifying and funding high-potential studies early to ensure that the pipeline is wide-ranging and scientists are enthusiastic to join this field of research.”
The results of the Association’s funding efforts have also led to the Alzheimer’s Association-led U.S. POINTER study. U.S. POINTER is a two-year clinical trial to evaluate whether lifestyle interventions that simultaneously target multiple risk factors protect cognitive function in older adults (age 60-79) at increased risk for cognitive decline. It is the first such study to be conducted in a large group of Americans.
“It’s estimated that more than one-third of global dementia cases may be preventable by addressing lifestyle factors,” said Maria Carrillo, Ph.D., chief science officer at the Alzheimer’s Association. “Heart disease and some cancers can now be effectively treated and prevented with a combination of medical and behavioral management. It’s time to see if we can see the same benefits for Alzheimer’s and other dementias.”