International collaboration is vital to advancing Alzheimer’s disease research on multiple fronts, from genetics to biomarkers to translational research.
Just weeks ago, at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference® 2014 in Copenhagen, I was pleased to witness firsthand the intense commitment among scientists worldwide to find solutions to this devastating disease. From early morning to late evening, at symposium and plenary sessions, during poster sessions and coffee breaks, at add-on meetings and consortium sessions, some 4,300 investigators from 75 different countries shared recent findings and explored ways to overcome the challenges of finding ways to treat or prevent this complex disease.
As a leading funder of Alzheimer’s disease research, NIA looks forward to this annual meeting of the best minds in dementia research. My own staff was well represented at this year’s meeting, providing our grantees—and those who may one day be recipients of NIA funding—some invaluable one-on-one time to discuss the direction of research at NIA and worldwide.
Ambitious goals, exciting research
It is vitally important to hear about new perspectives and different approaches from the wider research community, particularly at this time. We are working hard to meet the goals and interim milestones of the U.S. National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, with an ambitious, national research agenda. (Read our recent Alzheimer’s Disease Progress Report.) Much of the research presented at the meeting explored exciting developments in genetics, biology, biomarker, and clinical research. It was particularly interesting to me, with my long-time association with the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, to see the progress in PET imaging of tau in the human brain.
Reaching early career, student researchers
A particularly gratifying part of the AAIC is the opportunity for NIA staff to reach out to early career and student researchers. Along with NIA Director Richard Hodes and Rod Corriveau, who oversees Alzheimer’s-related dementias research at the National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke, I presented an overview of NIA research priorities and funding opportunities at a workshop for members of the International Society to Advance Alzheimer's Research and Treatment (ISTAART), sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association. With NIH staff seated throughout the room for one-on-one consultations with the ISTAART members and other attendees, the discussions were lively and engaging, focusing in on how the grant process works and research opportunities.
Check out the International Alzheimer’s Disease Research Portfolio.
At the conference, NIA and Alzheimer’s Association staff worked very hard to raise awareness of the International Alzheimer’s Disease Research Portfolio (IADRP)—a free tool developed by the Institute and the Association that enables investigators and funding organizations to assess the support and direction of research efforts in the US and other countries. The international research community can use the database to help coordinate strategies, leverage resources, and avoid duplication of effort. This was an ideal venue to bring potential IADRP contributors on board and to update current participants about new ways to search and use the database. I invite any meeting participant, or for that matter, any reader of this blog to learn more about IADRP by contacting NIA’s Nina Silverberg.
Upcoming February 9-10, 2015—Alzheimer’s Disease Research Summit at NIH
The NIH is hosting its own international meeting, the 2015 Alzheimer’s Disease Summit, on February 9-10 of next year. Modeled on the earlier Alzheimer’s Disease Research Summit 2012: Path to Treatment and Prevention that helped shape recent research directions, this follow-on Summit promises to draw 400-plus leading researchers and clinicians, advocates, industry representatives, and caregivers to the NIH Bethesda campus. The agenda and registration should be open and available in early fall. Also, next summer, AAIC will be held in our own backyard of Washington, D.C. I look forward to seeing you at both of these important meetings.
Did you attend the recent AAIC meeting? What were your scientific takeaways?