About Us

History of the Alliance

Over a Quarter-Century of Leadership

The origins of the Alliance for Aging Research reach back to the mid-1980s. Members of Congress from both political parties became aware that the aging of the U.S. population would pose an unsustainable demand for health care resources, unless strategies for keeping older Americans healthy and vital could be discovered from medical and behavioral research. After consulting top scientists, medical experts, economists and futurists, a bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives concluded that future advances in the science of aging hold the greatest promise for moderating health costs while improving the lives of millions of older Americans. No existing organization had the scientific standing and the political and media know-how to lead an effective charge for research in aging.

California's then senior U.S. Senator, Alan Cranston, had helped legislate the creation of the National Institute on Aging in the 1970s and was active in advancing the science of healthy aging. A senior member of his staff, Daniel Perry, was asked to set up a not-for-profit advocacy organization in the private sector. Dr. Robert N. Butler, a Pulitzer Prize winning author of Why Survive? Being Old in America and founding Director of the NIA, provided guidance and inspiration for the mission of the new organization.

The early efforts were strengthened by a scholarly assessment of the need for political advocacy in aging research, written by a young attorney and graduate student at the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government. The author was Alan Grayson. who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida in 2008 and again in 2012. For more than 20 years until his first election to Congress, Grayson served as an officer of the Alliance.

The Alliance for Aging Research was launched as a tax-exempt, not-for-profit organization in 1986 in Washington, D.C.  Notable public figures taking part in the launch at the time included Republican Senator John Heinz, Reagan cabinet secretary Richard Schweiker, Democratic senators Cranston, John Glenn, Al Gore and Commonwealth Fund President Margaret Mahoney. A governing body was comprised of senior executives of major foundations and corporations as well as prominent scientists and policymakers acting as advisors.

For 30 years, the Alliance has been a leading nonprofit force advancing the science of aging and health, educating health care consumers and medical professionals, and advocating for public policies to promote aging research and higher quality of life for older Americans.

Its Board of Directors was initially led by David R. Carpenter, a top executive with Transamerica and the UniHealth Foundation and later by John L. Steffens, former vice chair of Merrill Lynch and current head of Spring Mountain Capital; James E. Eden, a former Marriott executive and current developer of senior living facilities; and Allan Fox, founder and general partner of the Washington, D.C.-based law firm of FoxKiser. A distinguished science advisory board that has included Nobel laureates has guided the Alliance and its work since its inception. 

Milestones

1986
The Alliance for Aging Research is launched with a series of events on Capitol Hill and elsewhere in Washington, D.C.
1987
The Alliance hosts an international conference on Capitol Hill: The Promise of Productive Aging: The Future for the U.S. and Japan.
1988
The Alliance organizes more than 50 disease-specific groups to challenge Congress to increase federal funding for aging-related health research to $1 billion.
1989
The Alliance hosts the largest public gathering to date to consider potential medical and health benefits of sequencing the human genome. It features pioneering scientists: James Watson, Leroy Hood and Thomas Caskey. The Alliance testifies to a Senate Committee that federal efforts to understand genetic basis of age-associated diseases could increase healthy aging and moderate health care spending for older Americans.
1990
The Alliance teams with former Cabinet Secretary Joseph Califano to draft the Independence for Older Americans Act of 1990. Major portions of the bill are adopted by Congress, setting up a National Task Force to review research to foster healthy aging and creating a network of Claude Pepper Older Americans Independence Centers at major academic insitutions.
1991
With a grant from the Commonwealth Fund, the Alliance leads a national campaign to publicize and disseminate a National Research Agenda on Aging produced by the Institute of Medicine. Testimony is submitted by the Alliance to the Social Security Advisory Committee detailing how well-funded and coordinated research aimed at reducing the impact of chronic diseases of aging could help contain future costs of Medicare.
1992
Working with the Commonwealth Fund, the Alliance devises a plan to raise corporate support for developing careers of physician-scientists in geriatrics. The program provides the basis for what will become the highly-successful Paul Beeson Physician Faculty Scholars in Aging Research. The Alliance helps develop hearings of the House Select Committee on Aging on the shortfall of geriatric training in U.S. medical schools and cost effective benefits of aging research.
1993
The Alliance and NIA release initial results of the National Health and Retirement Survey regarding health and economic status of older Americans.
1994
The Alliance launches a nationwide campaign to build awareness about causes and new treatments for congestive heart failure, the leading cause of hospitalization among the elderly.
1995
The White House Conference on Aging adopts a resolution championed by the Alliance to make federal funding for aging research equal to 1 percent of federal health care expenditures for older Americans. The Alliance and the American Federal for Aging Research (AFAR) produce "Putting Aging on Hold: Delaying the Diseases of Aging" and distribute to delegates at the conference.
1996
The Alliance launches a three-year national high blood pressure education campaign aimed at older women. "Seven Deadly Myths: Uncovering the Facts about High Costs of the Last Year of Life" is released by the Alliance to correct misunderstandings about end-of-life care of older people.
1997
The Alliance begins its “Increasing Public Awareness about Age-Related Macular Degeneration” program.
1998
The Alliance honors senators Connie Mack and John Glenn for their contributions to science and healthy aging at its annual Bipartisan Congressional Awards Dinner.
1999
Senators Chuck Grassley and John Breaux of the Senate Special Committee on Aging help the Alliance call attention to its latest study about the hidden costs to U.S. health care that stem from loss of independence among older Americans.
1999
The Alliance helps launch the Patients’ Coalition for Urgent Research (Patients’ CURe) to highlight the stake of people with life-threatening diseases to speak out for public funding and accountability for human embryonic stem cell research.
2000
The Alliance convenes a symposium on Capitol Hill to explore possibilities of broader coverage of prescription drugs under Medicare; the report is produced in cooperation with the Senate Special Committee on Aging.
2001
The Interactive and innovative web module, Genetics in Aging, is launched on the Alliance website: www.agingresearch.org.
2003
In partnership with the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Roll Call editor, Mort Kondracke, the Alliance launches its SAGE Crossroads program to facilitate the live and online exchange between aging experts around issues of aging research and public policy.
2004
Alliance Executive Director, Daniel Perry, begins his service as president of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR), a coalition leading the efforts to advance research and technologies in regenerative medicine, including stem cell research and somatic cell nuclear transfer, in order to cure disease and alleviate suffering.
2005
The Alliance supplies the 2005 White House Conference on Aging with white papers on aging-related research and on geriatric training/workforce issues. The Alliance succeeds in getting delegates of the White House Conference on Aging to adopt aging research as one of its Top 50 priorities for implementation by the White House policy committee.
2006
The ACT-AD coalition launches to accelerate the development of a cure and treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. The coalition is dedicated to increasing public and government recognition that Alzheimer’s is a life-threatening disease that requires urgent attention. The coalition is chaired by Alliance Executive Director Daniel Perry.
2006
The Alliance releases The Silver Book®: Chronic Disease and Medical Innovation in an Aging Nation, an online almanac, along with the results of a national survey on the public’s knowledge of chronic disease.
2007
A campaign to increase awareness about malnutrition in older adults is launched by the Alliance.
2008
The Alliance debuts a series of four animated ‘pocket’ films, A Quick Look at Alzheimer’s, written and directed by David Shenk, author of the acclaimed book, The Forgetting, and narrated by Emmy- and Tony-award winning actor David Hyde Pierce. The third edition of Taking a Closer Look at Age-Related Macular Degeneration is released and sent to ophthalmologists across the country for recently diagnosed patients.
2008
A workshop kit for community leaders is released by the Alliance and provides all of the tools needed to conduct a Standing Strong workshop on osteoporosis prevention and treatment.
2008
Named for the ultimate aging research champion, the Florence S. Mahoney Award is initiated by the Alliance to recognize distinguished public service and commitment.
2010
Through the Task Force on Aging Research Funding, the Alliance and more than 65 disease groups, non-profit advocacy organizations and foundations urge Congress and the president to restore a national commitment to medical research.
2011
The MetLife Foundation Silver Scholar Award is created to honor the important work of economists, demographers, and related researchers whose scholarship increases our understanding of the value of healthy life after 65 and medical innovations that help individuals live healthier, longer.
2011
The Alliance organizes a “dream team” of top Alzheimer’s scientists to create a consensus statement on biomarkers to guide drug development for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. It is published as a special issue of Neurobiology of Aging.
2011
Susan Peschin, M.H.S., a leading advocate for public policies supporting Alzheimer’s disease research and services for affected families, joins the Alliance as chief operating officer.
2011
Continuing to prioritize vision loss research and education, the Alliance joins the T.A.K.E. on Glaucoma educational campaign to promote early detection, and partners with the Alliance for Eye and Vision Research for a Capitol Hill Briefing on age-related macular degeneration.
2012
The Alliance-led AFib Optimal Treatment Task Force announces the results of an online survey of patients 65+ years old, exploring their experiences with the diagnosis and treatment of their atrial fibrillation (AFib), and an expert consensus document that makes important recommendations on the proper anticoagulation of older adults with AFib.
2012
The Healthspan Campaign is launched by the Alliance to bring focus and research to the “common denominator” of the majority of chronic diseases—aging itself.
2012
Partnering with the Administration on Aging, the Alliance hosts a meeting exploring the state of translation of evidence-based interventions to help individuals with Alzheimer’s disease remain healthy and independent longer.
2013
The Alliance releases The Silver Book®: Infectious Diseases and Prevention through Vaccination—the 10th volume/factsheet in The Silver Book series.
2013
The Alliance honors Martha Stewart—founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Emmy Award-winning television show host, entrepreneur and bestselling author— with its Silver Innovator Award. The Alliance continues its commitment to combatting persistent pain by releasing a Silver Book volume and continuing work on the Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition.
2013
The Alliance plays a major role in the National Institutes of Health’s historic Advances in Geroscience: Impact on Healthspan and Chronic Disease summit, which brought together 50 renowned investigators to examine how the basic biology of aging drives chronic disease.
2013
As part of the Alliance’s Silver Scholar award, Drs. David Cutler and Dana Goldman release a paper in Health Affairs on the substantial health and economic returns from delayed aging warranting a new focus for medical research.
2014
Susan Peschin is named as new president and chief executive officer for the Alliance. Dan Perry continues with the Alliance as founder.
2014
The Alliance’s AIM Coalition hosts a historic gathering of experts to highlight the latest developments in clinical research and treatment of sarcopenia, an aging-related condition that causes progressive loss of skeletal muscle.
2014
The Alliance continues its important work to raise awareness about aortic stenosis by releasing a pocket film and other educational resources for consumers and health care professionals.
2014
The Alliance honors Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, Purdue University president Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., TEDMED curator and chairman Jay Walker and renowned geneticist J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., at its 21st Annual Bipartisan Congressional Awards Dinner at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, D.C.
2014
The Alliance announces the launch of a new comprehensive campaign aimed at educating about valve disease in women.
2014
The ACT-AD Coalition hosts its Seventh Annual Meeting on the theme of clinical meaningfulness in drug development for early Alzheimer’s disease.
2014
The Alliance launches a new campaign to raise awareness about venous thromboembolism (VTE).
2015
A survey released by the Alliance of more than 500 patients ages 65 and over with atrial fibrillation (AFib) reveals significant insights about the condition's impact on older adults.
2015
An Alliance survey of 1,600 Americans ages 18 and over finds that adults overwhelmingly prefer education about the safe use of over-the-counter (OTC) medications, particularly those containing acetaminophen, and disagree with restricting access to those same OTC medications as the alternative.
2015
The founder of the Alliance, Dan Perry, retires from the organization.
2015
The Alliance releases a new volume and factsheet focused on cancer in its Silver Book®: Chronic Disease and Medical Innovation in an Aging Nation series at a Capitol Hill briefing.
2015
A new website, Living with Valve Disease, launched by Alliance offers educational resources, community, and ultimately, hope, for seniors and others who are living with heart valve disease.
2015
The Alliance releases a white paper, Our Best Shot: Expanding Prevention through Vaccination in Older Adults, that provides a comprehensive overview of the factors that drive vaccination underutilization in seniors.
2015
The Alliance debuts a new version of the highly-respected Silver Book® reference website that offers users convenient access to its vast library of stats, facts, and infographics on diseases and conditions of older age.
2015
The ACT-AD Coalition holds its Eighth Annual Meeting on Assessing the Scientific Foundation for Alzheimer’s Disease Therapeutic Development.
2015
The Alliance honors Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado, Alzheimer’s research pioneer Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., and Scott Simon of National Public Radio at its 22nd Annual Bipartisan Congressional Awards Dinner at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, D.C.
2016
The Alliance debuts two animated “pocket films” focused on educating consumers about how to safely choose, take, and store OTC pain medication.
2016
The Alliance, in partnership with the Mars Center for Cocoa Health Science, releases three animated “pocket films” that explain the role of nutrition in healthy aging and highlight some of the latest findings in nutrition research.
2016
The Alliance's Cynthia Bens is named as the president of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA Board of Directors.

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