Progress for Alzheimer’s in Washington

Posted April 15, 2011

In September, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund representatives were invited by the White House to be panelists at a briefing on Alzheimer’s disease. At the White House Briefing on the Challenge of Alzheimer’s Disease in the United States, Tim Armour and Rudy Tanzi made presentations regarding the current state of Alzheimer’s research to senior members of the White House, Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health and representatives of many Alzheimer’s advocacy groups.

“It was an honor to accept the invitation from the White House Office of Health Reform and Domestic Policy Council to share the story of Cure Alzheimer’s Fund and the state of research in America,” Armour says. “I am glad Cure Alzheimer’s Fund was able to meet the responsibility of being a leading voice on the need for additional government support for Alzheimer’s disease research. We’ve met with White House staff in the past about the importance of investment in research and we look forward to continuing this dialogue.”

As we continue our efforts toward finding a cure for Alzheimer’s, we also understand the importance of being active participants for change on Capitol Hill. Here’s an update on some of our most recent activities.

A unified effort

Since CAF is not fighting the Alzheimer’s battle alone, we recognize the importance of collaborating with the larger Alzheimer’s community to make the case for a greater government investment in research. In September, we received a grant for $148,500, which CAF matched, to buy a piece of research equipment for genetic sequencing. This dramatically accelerated the process of confirmation and follow-up of genes identified through the Alzheimer’s Genome project.

The Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Act

In the spirit of collaboration, we teamed up with other Alzheimer’s organizations to support the Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Act. This act has been proposed before and has not been passed because it calls for an incremental $2 billion a year for research. “If you’re going to be serious about the Alzheimer’s disaster that’s going to break Medicare and Medicaid by the middle of this century, you’re going to have to make a serious investment, and $2 billion is serious,” says Tim Armour, president and CEO of Cure Alzheimer’s Fund. Our efforts are not for naught as they heighten awareness of the issues.

The largest legislative victory in years for the Alzheimer’s cause

The National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) was passed unanimously by Congress and signed into law by the president in January 2011. The purpose of NAPA is to create a national strategic plan to address the escalating Alzheimer’s disease crisis, led by a group that reports directly to the secretary of health and human services. Under the guidance of Phil Cronin, a valued advocate with whom we work on governmental issues, CAF joined forces with other Alzheimer’s organizations, including The Foundation of America, the Alzheimer’s Association, Leaders Against Alzheimer’s Disease and US Against Alzheimer’s, on this push. “NAPA’s success was a unified effort of the entire Alzheimer’s community and a big step forward,” says Armour.

The Next Frontier

Patrick Kennedy, son of the late Sen. Teddy Kennedy, did not stand for re-election in 2010 to represent Rhode Island in Congress. Instead, he is focusing on elevating brain disease research via a new organization called The Next Frontier. Rudy Tanzi, chairman of CAF’s Research Consortium, has been selected to plan the Memory, Alzheimer’s and Genetics portions of the Next Frontier scientific symposium to be held at Massachusetts General Hospital in May 2011.

We’re pleased with our recent progress and will continue to keep you updated.