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.
National Institutes of Health staff are getting ready to attend the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2017 in London, where dementia researchers, clinicians, advocates, and health care providers from around the world will meet on July 16–20. Some 4,000 members of the Alzheimer’s community are expected to attend, and the NIH contingent hopes to connect with you there!
A recurring question from readers after I post a new funding line blog post is: Does that line apply to my application? It usually does, bringing good news to those blessed with applications within that line. The normal caution applies—the line means that we expect to pay awards. Still, the funding line doesn’t apply to everything.
In mid-January, I attended the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. This unique event—popularly referred to simply as Davos—connects international leaders in the private and public sectors—from government, business, and academia—to improve the global community. While “economics” is part of the meeting’s name, health, science, and technology were integral to the discussions.
Research on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (AD/ADRD) is an important component of the NIA’s mission. In recent years, Congress has provided a significant amount of additional funding beyond our typical appropriation for us to accelerate research on the basic biology, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care related to this devastating group of diseases. With this additional funding comes the responsibility to plan and set priorities for the funds’ use.
Alzheimer’s drug discovery and development is not for the fainthearted. It’s extremely expensive and time-consuming, and the possibility of disappointment looms at every phase of discovery. According to one analysis, half of candidate therapies fail during preclinical research—the phase when important information on feasibility, testing, and drug safety is collected. And, if a promising therapy does advance to a clinical trial, another recent analysis indicates there’s a 98 percent failure rate during phase II and III, primarily due to lack of efficacy.
Small smiles of satisfaction spread around the staff in my office last week. The NIH Guide published the last of our long-running saga of funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) on Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s-related dementias (ADRD). These were the concepts that the National Advisory Council on Aging approved last September (Thank you again, everyone!).