Skip to main content

Accelerating research on Alzheimer's disease and related dementias: NIH's FY 2021 bypass budget and progress report

Dr. Richard Hodes
Richard J. HODES,
Office of the Director (OD)

Fifty years ago, American astronauts took one giant leap for humankind by landing on the moon. This extraordinary achievement took immeasurable courage, conviction, commitment, and collaboration—and the need for these sterling traits is echoed in our goal to achieve substantive progress against Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias by 2025.

NIH estimates that we will need a total of $2.882 billion in FY 2021, including $354 million in additional resources for new research, to accelerate and expand the remarkable research progress made toward the 2025 goal. To propose this budget, NIH considered multiple factors.

We reviewed progress to date and recommendations from recent summits to arrive at a list of research goals. We then evaluated these goals relative to our current budget and the projected budget for next year. Finally, we looked at funds we expect to recover from research that is ending. The result was the final figure of $354 million in additional resources.

Recent advances, new initiatives

On behalf of NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, I presented the FY 2021 Bypass Budget at the July 29 meeting of the HHS Secretary's Advisory Council on Alzheimer's Research, Care, and Services. The release of this information recognizes a remarkable period of scientific growth and discovery as we push toward our objective, including progress in:

  • Deeper understanding of genetic risk factors
  • Revealing disease mechanisms
  • Finding better biomarkers to detect and diagnose disease
  • Accelerating drug design into human testing
  • Making clinical trials more efficient and inclusive
  • Intensifying research on care and services

Together we succeed

I am encouraged by the progress outlined in the latest bypass budget proposal and look forward to expanding our broad and collaborative efforts at NIH and beyond. Far too many people have watched loved ones succumb to this mind-destroying disease! It is with deep gratitude that I acknowledge the critical role of millions of stakeholders—people living with these devastating dementias, their caregivers, clinical trial participants, NIH-supported scientists, advocates, and public officials across the country—in providing the crucial collective force necessary to address these scourges of our time. I hope you’ll take some time to read through the report (PDF, 2.6M) and share your comments below.


Submitted by Li Zhang on August 07, 2019

As any experienced scientists may be aware, most established scientists in any research areas feel and act strongly to protect their territories. Decades of research haven been done on AD, but no real fundamental advances that can lead to effective therapies have been achieved. Well-funded and experienced research labs in the AD field are well aware of all existing ideas and hypotheses, and have collected large grants for their research. The established researchers have had sufficient funds to pursue their ideas. Double or triple the money to them will not yield new ideas and new results. NIH leaders should have the leadership and courage to direct some new funds to researchers who are not already established in the AD or neuron field, to elicit substantial research efforts in new ideas, directions, and approaches. NIH should also avoid just direct funds to well-known, well-funded labs. There is nothing for NIH to lose by directing funds to researchers who are not already AD experts or neuron experts, except for the displeasure of established researchers whose appetite for more and more money is insatiable. NIH should direct them to gain a little humility and recognize their imperfection, and encourage them to give others with fresh ideas a chance.

Submitted by P. Hemachandra Reddy on August 07, 2019

My sincere thanks to Drs Hodes and Collins for their support. We need accelerated research on several aspects - blood-based biomarkers (Abeta40 and 42, P-tau and microRNA-based markers) at large scale community level - not just AD patients, individuals 30 years (both male and female) and beyond to determine baseline markers and markers that correlate with depression and dementia - The other important thing is finding knowledgeable, without conflict interest reviewers (when I said this because of patents and similar research in reviewers' labs) is important. Most of the time, ground breaking research projects are delayed and/or not timely funded because of reviewers' biased/opinionated comments and negative scores. PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO THIS ISSUE and CONDUCT THOROUGH CHECK ON REVIEWERS KNOWLEDGE AND CONFLICTS OF INTEREST. Again, my sincere thanks to All at NIA/NINDS/NIMH, most importantly Drs. Hodes and Collins for kind and sincere support for DEMENTIA RESEARCH.