NIH asks for $414.4 million more for Alzheimer's research

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NIH asks for $414.4 million more for Alzheimer's research
NIH asks for $414.4 million more for Alzheimer's research

The National Institutes of Health will need $414.4 million more than its base appropriation for Alzheimer's disease and related dementias in fiscal year 2018 if it is to meet the research goals of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease, according to a report published by the agency on Monday.

The national plan calls for effectively treating and preventing Alzheimer's and related dementias by 2025.

The additional monies would be used to “build on the momentum achieved through recent expanded investment in research and sustain the unprecedented excitement of discovery that many in the field are feeling today,” wrote NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.  All told, the NIH would need $1.4 billion in fiscal year 2018 for Alzheimer's research, according to the report.

Specifically, he said, the expanded funding would help:

  • Develop diagnostic tools to help primary care physicians and clinical researchers detect cognitive impairment and dementia and discern among different types of dementias;
  • Discover and validate neuroimaging, physiologic, and molecular biomarkers that would enhance diagnostic accuracy and improve assessments of disease progression, especially in people with mixed Alzheimer's/vascular dementia;
  • Supplement ongoing clinical trials and studies to increase diversity in dementia research;
  • Develop and improve experimental models of dementia that can be used to advance understanding of the disease processes and translate these discoveries into new therapies; and
  • Identify genetic variations that cause or contribute to dementia and study the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which these variations contribute to the disease process.

The document published Monday, prepared at the request of Congress, is called a “bypass budget” because it is submitted to the president and then to Congress without modification through the traditional federal budget process. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), chairwoman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging and a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said she supports the requested increase.

“In addition to the human suffering it causes, Alzheimer's costs the United States an estimated $236 billion a year, including $160 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid, yet we are spending just a fraction of that amount on research,” she said.

Sen. Collins and then-Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) in 2011 authored the National Alzheimer's Project Act, which created the National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease.

Last year, Congress approved a $350 million increase for Alzheimer's disease research at the NIH's National Institute of Aging, bringing the total amount available for Alzheimer's research in FY 2016 to $991 million, an increase of more than 50%. The Advisory Council on Alzheimer's Research, Care and Services for the National Alzheimer's Project has said that $2 billion is needed annually to reach the plan's goal.

Earlier this year, Sen. Collins advocated for an additional $400 million in funding for Alzheimer's for FY 2017. This increase has been included in legislation approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The graphic below is from "Stopping Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias: Advancing Our Nation's Research Agenda."


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