Research and Funding

New database aims to capture international Alzheimer’s disease research efforts

October 10, 2012


NIH, Alzheimer’s Association invite research funders to participate

A new, publicly available database is seeking to capture the full spectrum of current Alzheimer’s disease research investments and resources—both in the U.S. and internationally. The International Alzheimer’s Disease Research Portfolio (IADRP), developed by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the NIH, in collaboration with the Alzheimer’s Association, will enable public and private funders of Alzheimer’s research to coordinate research planning, leverage resources, avoid duplication of funding efforts and identify new opportunities in promising areas of growth. The newly developed resource, currently hosted and maintained by NIA, helps to implement research goals of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease (NAPA), announced by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in May 2012.

“We need to do everything we can to find new, more effective ways to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s, and the research community recognizes the urgent need to coordinate funding strategies and leverage resources in order to maximize our effectiveness,” said NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. “We invite all private and public funders of Alzheimer’s research— federal and international funding agencies, academia, and privately funded researchers in the U.S. and throughout the world—to join us in building this new resource.”

“Researchers and funders seeking scientific opportunities can use this database to inform their own efforts by searching for research being conducted on specific topics, to track research patterns over time, and to compare research areas supported by different funders,” Hodes said. He noted it will also provide the public a more complete picture of the scale of ongoing research into the causes and possible treatment and prevention of the disease.

The IADRP uses the Common Alzheimer’s Disease Research Ontology (CADRO), a three-tier classification system created to include the complete range of Alzheimer’s disease research and related resources. The CADRO, developed in collaboration by the NIA and the Alzheimer’s Association, is organized around seven categories:  Molecular Pathogenesis and Physiology of Alzheimer’s Disease; Diagnosis, Assessment and Disease Monitoring; Translational Research and Clinical Interventions; Epidemiology; Care, Support and Health Economics of Alzheimer’s Disease; Research Resources; and Consortia and Public-Private Partnerships.   

“In order to capture and compare the wide array of existing investments in Alzheimer’s research, funding organizations needed a common language and a common classification system. The CADRO provides this common language,” said Lorenzo Refolo, Ph.D., of NIA’s Division of Neuroscience, one of the developers of the ontology and the IADRP database

“As nations around the world prepare for a significant increase in Alzheimer's prevalence, efforts are intensifying to better understand the natural history and progression of the disease and develop new approaches for diagnosis, treatment and prevention,” said William Thies, Ph.D., Alzheimer’s Association chief medical and scientific officer.

“This database is a powerful tool for research funders to evaluate their existing research portfolios and become more strategic in their future funding by identifying gaps, overlaps, redundancies, but also to identify emerging opportunities. It will help funding organizations focus their commitments to underfunded areas of research and identify unexplored research potential. The goal is to get the answers we need faster,” Thies said.

NAPA required the U.S. to develop a national plan for research, care and services needed to address Alzheimer’s. Under the plan, announced May 15, 2012, the primary research goal calls for preventing and effectively treating the disease by 2025. Toward that end, the plan identifies the coordination of research with international public and private entities as a vital strategy towards accelerating the discovery of effective treatments (see Strategy 1.D under Goal 1 (PDF, 965K)). The IADRP database, a product of a two-year long collaborative effort between the NIA and the Alzheimer’s Association, is a major step towards the implementation of this strategic goal.

Along with NIA, over 20 fellow NIH Institutes and Centers are part of the database. Other federal agencies participating in the effort include the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Administration on Aging, the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense. The Alzheimer’s Research UK is the first international entity to join the collaboration.

IADRP can be found at http://iadrp.nia.nih.gov/cadro-web.  For more information, contact Dr. Lorenzo Refolo, NIA Division of Neuroscience, at 301-496-9350 or refolol@nia.nih.gov; or, Dr. Heather Snyder, Alzheimer's Association, Medical and Scientific Relations Division, at 312-335-5184 or hsnyder@alz.org.

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The Alzheimer's Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. For more information on the Association, visit www.alz.org.

The National Institute on Aging, part of the NIH, leads the federal government effort conducting and supporting research on aging and the health and well-being of older people. The NIA provides information on age-related cognitive change and neurodegenerative disease specifically at its Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center at www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers. For more on health and on aging generally, go to www.nia.nih.gov. To sign up for e-mail alerts about new findings or publications, please visit either website.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

NIH …Turning Discovery Into Health

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