6 million people live with Alzheimer’s as of 2018. By 2050 that number will increase to 14 million. Alzheimer’s is currently the third leading cause of death among the elderly in the United States. It’s a disorder which not only affects the patient but also the family and caregivers. The National Institute of Health (NIH) is currently conducting Alzheimer’s research to find preventions and a cure for this deadly disorder. However, for this research to progress a substantial amount of funding is required. That’s where Senator Susan Collins, Senator Mark Warner, and Senator Ed Markey have taken the initiative.
Senators Collins, Warner, and Markey wrote a letter to the U.S. Senate Committee Appropriations requesting an increase in funding for Alzheimer’s research which was signed by 38 other senators. In the letter, the Senators write, “While the challenges posed by Alzheimer’s are substantial, continued breakthroughs in science and therapy could help achieve the national goal of preventing and effectively treating Alzheimer’s by 2025...We also urge you to provide appropriate support to Alzheimer's disease and dementia initiatives through the Administration for Community Living (ACL) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that seek to support family caregivers of persons with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias and to expand awareness and understanding of this disease”.
In 2011 Senator Collins founded the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) with then Senator Evan Bayh. NAPA has since then created the National Plan in 2012 which set five goals to prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia in the future, which include: optimizing care and quality efficiency for those living with Alzheimer’s, expanding support systems for people with Alzheimer’s along with their families, enhancing public awareness and engagement, tracking progress and drive improvement, and effectively treating Alzheimer’s by 2025. According to Senator Susan Collins' website, “NAPA convened a panel of experts, who determined that $2 billion per year in research funding is needed to achieve our goal of preventing and treating Alzheimer’s by the year 2025. Senator Collins helped secure $1.8 billion-an increase of $414 million for Alzheimer’s research in the fiscal year of 2018 funding bill, which brings us within reach of the $2 billion goal”.
The increase in funding for Alzheimer’s research will be used by the NIH to conduct studies on the causes, diagnosis, and management of Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a complex disorder and there is currently no drug or intervention that can treat it. Current methods focus on helping maintain mental and behavioral symptoms, and slow down problems such as memory loss. Researchers are hoping to develop therapies so that the underlying cause of Alzheimer’s can be stopped and prevented. With the new budget of $1.8 billion progress is possible.