It's Us Against Alzheimer's


It's Us Against Alzheimer's

Yesterday morning, USAgainstAlzheimer's launched its campaign to erase Alzheimer's by 2020. Between now and 2020, the organization said, more than 2 trillion will be spent caring for those with the disease and less than $5 billion will be invested by NIH in stopping this disease. USAgainstAlzheimer’s wants "to give a political voice to the American people who can no longer tolerate the lack of focus and resources being devoted to eradicating this disease," it says.

The campaign launched with an early morning press conference. Among those speaking during the conference included Sandra Day O’Connor, Supreme Court Justice (Ret.). "My husband, John, had Alzheimer's," she said. "He passed away in November. The consequences spread widely in our family and among his friends, as any family affected by Alzheimer's can tell you.

"We need help from every single address this problem," she said. "It's enormous in its reach and its effect."

During her comments, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) said that Alzheimer's is known as "the family's illness" in her family because two cousins, her grandfather and her uncle have died from Alzheimer's. Another uncle has been diagnosed with the disease.

"For every dollar the federal government spends on the costs of caring, it invest less than a penny on research to find a cure," she said. "We want to double Alzheimer's research funding at the National Institutes of Health."

Stanley Prusiner, MD, Director of the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases at the University of California, San Francisco, and Nobel Prize Winner, said that Alzheimer's disease will bankrupt the United States. Alzheimer's, he said, "is the biggest challenge on our planet. We have an Alzheimer's tsunami on our hands."

Our nation (the United States) is the nation that can solve the problem, he said. "The political will is missing--Congress and the President have to get behind this. We can change the course of human history."

Katie Henley, an undergrad  at Colorado State University and winner of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America Teen Scholarship, ended the press conference with the story of her father, diagnosed at 41 and dead at 44. The hardest part, she said, was that the family could do nothing to save his life.

The press conference was compelling, empowering, enthralling. Each speaker spoke from the heart, impassioned by the task at hand, emboldened by a belief it can be done, confident that we're just the ones to do it.

USAgainstAlzheimer's said that nearly 150 of the world’s leading Alzheimer’s researchers believe we can develop a treatment that will stop this disease by 2020, but only with an appropriate, disciplined strategy backed by sufficient funding. On January 1, 2011, the first wave of the 78 million baby boomers will turn 65, an estimated 10 million of whom will die of this disease unless it's stopped.

Consider the current annual budget for NIH research:

  • $6.5 billion for cancer research

  • $3 billion for HIV

  • $450 million for Alzheimer's disease

Researcher does net results: HIV death rates are down 16%.

Conversely, death rates for Alzheimer's are up 46%.

I sometimes tire of hearing how much money is spent on research because I worry about cuts in community services which help family caregivers. But, those who spoke yesterday morning convinced me: Research dollars will end Alzheimer's disease.

It's Us Against Alzheimer's.