This week’s press event announcing an immediate $50 million infusion of NIH funding to Alzheimer’s research—along with commitments to include an additional $80 million in research dollars and $26 million in services and supports in the President’s FY 2013 budget—was monumental on a number of fronts.
First, the dreadful fiscal environment makes the chances of getting an increase in funding for anything about as likely as all DC Metro escalators working simultaneously. Second, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins came out to announce this effort, signaling a first-ever sea change in the priority status of this area of research. Last, advocates from various organizations, including several aging research groups, worked together to help make this happen.
The last one may seem pretty standard, but unlike cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other disease advocacy areas, the Alzheimer’s issue groups have been a little late to the party in playing together to push for change. But in the last several years coalitions such as Leaders Engaged in Alzheimer’s Disease (LEAD), the Alliance for Aging Research’s Accelerate Cure/Treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease (ACT-AD), the Coalition Against Major Diseases (CAMD) and others have sprung up and activated stakeholders around the country.
The result? Implementation of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA), legislation that mandates an Advisory Council and development of a “national plan to defeat Alzheimer’s,” has been on a fast track since President Obama signed it in January 2011. The draft plan is scheduled to come out later this month and be finalized by May—the government equivalent of going 0 to 60 in 5 seconds.
The Alliance thanks the Administration for this initial significant investment in Alzheimer’s research and services, as well as for its swift implementation of NAPA, and applauds the remarkable collaboration that helped make it happen.