It was great to see so many of you at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference last month! I was thrilled to catch up with colleagues, attend the special events, and learn about many new Alzheimer’s research findings. In case you missed it, NIA and the Alzheimer’s Association hosted a pre-conference symposium: “Enabling Precision Medicine for Alzheimer’s Disease Through Open Science.”
If we roll back the clock 12 months, we’ll see that, back then, NIA issued a call for administrative supplements for existing NIA grantees to add an aim on Alzheimer’s disease (and its related dementias) to a grant that was not already studying Alzheimer’s or its related dementias. This year, we decided to open the field up a little and include other NIH institutes.
You may have already heard that the NIA has awarded a new cooperative agreement establishing the Alzheimer’s Clinical Trial Consortium (ACTC). We expect the ACTC to accelerate and expand studies for therapies in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. We hope you’ve also heard that the funding opportunity for ACTC trials is open. The first submission date for applications is March 29 and we strongly encourage interested investigators to reach out to the ACTC leadership and NIA well in advance.
In December 2016, the President signed the 21st Century Cures Act (P.L. 114-255)—legislation that included many components relevant to the NIH—into law. One requires the NIH to support and report on prize competitions in biomedical research that can advance a field and potentially improve health outcomes. NIA now stands ready to join the action, by initiating the first step in a prize for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) research.
The nation has made Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and related dementias (ADRD) a top research priority, through additional substantial funding from Congress. While aging is the major risk factor for AD and ADRD, many investigators in the biology of aging research community questioned whether their expertise would be recognized as valuable. Analysis of last year’s AD-related funding opportunity announcements suggests that participation of basic researchers with little or no previous experience in Alzheimer’s research is crucial.
According to the latest projections, by 2050, our world will experience the sobering reality of 131 million people with dementia. By then, many of today’s adults will develop Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia—unless research can change that course. NIA already funds a wide range of trials designed to test interventions that may be effective against dementia. While research moves forward, what can we tell the public and clinicians today about actions they might take to protect cognitive health?
Today, it’s estimated that more than 5.3 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease. This number is expected to climb to nearly 14 million by 2050, unless we find ways to stop the disease. The National Research Summit on Care, Services, and Supports for Persons with Dementia and Their Caregivers on October 16 and 17 will focus on the research needed to develop, evaluate, implement, and disseminate comprehensive care, services, and support for people with dementia, their families, and other caregivers.