Alzheimer's Association Advocacy Forum keynote speaker Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), provided attendees at Tuesday's General session with a dose of good news for Alzheimer's research during a time when optimism about financial resources may be in short supply.
Collins announced - in what he termed a unique step - that he has designated $40 million from his fiscal year 2013 director's budget for Alzheimer's research by scientists who recently submitted applications at the request of the National Institute on Aging.
In addition, Collins pointed out that President Barack Obama's FY14 budget would add $80 million for Alzheimer's research "over and above what's being supported for any other condition, again reflecting the way this administration prioritizes this disease."
"I so wish it could be more," he said. "But I hope you hear in this kind of a commitment the way in which we at NIH see this as an opportunity and a responsibility. We also hope that moving forward we can put medical research back on the stable track that is needed in order to support the research and the researchers."
Despite the budget uncertainty, Collins spelled out a number of current developments related to Alzheimer's research. These include the recently announced Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) mapping project; the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI); the discovery of 10 new genetic variants; animal models, such as a new rat model featuring both plaques and tangles; more than a dozen Alzheimer's clinical trials under way; and the repurposing of drugs not orginally meant to treat the disease.