As the world’s largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer's research, the Alzheimer's Association is committed to accelerating the global effort to eliminate Alzheimer's. We have undertaken a multitude of diverse research initiatives working toward methods of treatment, prevention and, ultimately, a cure. Below are just a few of these initiatives.
The Alzheimer's Association funds independent researchers worldwide through our International Research Grant Program. Currently, the Association is investing over $165 million in more than 450 projects in 25 countries. Since awarding our first grants in 1982, the Association has invested over $440 million in more than 2,900 scientific investigations, funding some of the most instrumental research in Alzheimer's science.
We fund investigations across the spectrum of dementia science, including projects that advance our understanding of Alzheimer's disease, identify new treatment strategies, improve care and support for people with dementia and their families, and further our knowledge of brain health and disease prevention. Our funding is peer-reviewed by a vast international network of active scientists and carefully vetted by our Medical and Scientific Advisory Group, which includes leaders from the Alzheimer's and dementia research community with expertise ranging from bench research to clinical care to community health and support services.
In aggressive pursuit of its vision of a world without Alzheimer‘s, the Alzheimer's Association made its largest-ever research investment in 2018, granting more than $30 million to 131 scientific investigations. Investments included awards to 112 projects funded through the International Research Grant Program, representing proposals ranked highest by a peer-reviewed process in a highly competitive field of 533 applications submitted from 1,160 letters of intent.
Research we have funded
We have funded many of the most exciting advances in Alzheimer's research, including the development of Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB), the first radiotracer capable of showing beta-amyloid in the living brain during a positron emission tomography (PET) scan. Identifying beta-amyloid in the living brain makes it possible for researchers to determine if an experimental drug successfully decreases this hallmark Alzheimer’s protein and provides invaluable information about disease progression. Learn more about studies we have funded.
We connect and convene
The Alzheimer's Association hosts premier global forums for Alzheimer's and dementia scientists to connect across disciplines, address common challenges and share new discoveries:
- The Alzheimer's Association International Conference® (AAIC®), the world's largest gathering of Alzheimer's researchers and professionals.
- The Alzheimer's Association Research Roundtable, a consortium of scientists from the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, diagnostics, imaging and cognitive testing industries, and scientists from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), European Medicines Agency, Health Canada and other government agencies, who seek to facilitate the development and implementation of new treatments.
- Three peer-reviewed research journals to share diverse knowledge about Alzheimer's science with the global scientific community.
- The Alzheimer's Association International Society to Advance Alzheimer's Research and Treatment (ISTAART), a professional society for individuals dedicated to Alzheimer's and dementia research.
To help achieve our vision of a world without Alzheimer's, the Alzheimer’s Association partners with key government, industry and academic stakeholders including:
- The Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), a groundbreaking investigation to identify and standardize strategies for earlier diagnosis and disease monitoring. The Alzheimer's Association has awarded several million dollars in grants to support the original ADNI study and subsequent ADNI GO, ADNI 2 and ADNI 3 studies. The Association has also funded the European Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (E-ADNI), a pilot study that grew into the World Wide Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (WW-ADNI), and continues to provide leadership and financial support for WW-ADNI.
- The Global Alzheimer’s Association Interactive Network (GAAIN) offers unprecedented open access to more than 465,000 clinical records from researchers across four continents. By linking scientists, projects and data, GAAIN is transforming the exchange of information on an international scale.
- As biological markers of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias take expanded roles in research and, in some case diagnosis, the Global Biomarker Standardization Consortium (GBSC) has never been more important. The GBSC gathers key researchers, clinicians, and industry, regulatory and government leaders in Alzheimer's disease to achieve consensus on the best ways to standardize and validate biomarker tests for use in clinical practices around the world.
- The National Institute on Aging (NIA), the primary federal Alzheimer's research agency of the NIH. The Association has worked closely with the NIA since our founding in 1980, collaborating in funding and recruiting participants for several flagship clinical trials. In 2011, workgroups jointly convened by the Association and the NIA issued new diagnostic guidelines for Alzheimer's disease and proposed a research agenda to define a new preclinical stage of the disease. In 2018, the Association and NIA convened once again to publish a new Research Framework that proposes the use of biomarkers to detect Alzheimer’s in its earliest stages.
- The International Alzheimer’s Disease Research Portfolio (IADRP) features a publicly available database of Alzheimer’s research studies, programs and initiatives under way in the United States and internationally. IADRP enables organizations to coordinate funding strategies among organizations, leverage research-related resources, avoid duplication of efforts, and identify gaps in research funding and promising new areas of study. The IADRP is a collaborative project of the Alzheimer’s Association, National Institutes of Health and other organizations that provide funding to support Alzheimer’s research.
- The Accelerating Medicines Partnership - Alzheimer's Disease (AMP-AD) is a partnership of the National Institutes of Health, Alzheimer’s Association and other nonprofit organizations, and biopharmaceutical and life sciences companies with the goal of increasing understanding of the biological underpinnings of Alzheimer’s, identifying and validating potential new drug targets, and expediting development of medicines that prevent, slow or stop the disease. Working together in a precompetitive environment offers unprecedented opportunities for partners to combine intellectual and physical resources to accelerate the development of improved treatments.
- The International Genomics of Alzheimer's Project (IGAP), a global collaboration to discover and map all the genes involved in Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer’s is a triple threat unlike any other disease ― with soaring prevalence, lack of effective treatment and enormous costs. Increasing federal research funding is critical to address this crisis, as costs will grow swiftly with the numbers of those affected. The Alzheimer’s Association, working with and through the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (the advocacy arm of the Association), has played a critical role in increasing federal funding for Alzheimer’s research.
In addition, the Association introduced the Alzheimer’s Accountability Act, enacted in 2015. The Act ensures the U.S. Congress hears directly from National Institute of Health scientists about the funding needed each year to prevent or effectively treat Alzheimer’s by 2025. Alzheimer’s is only the third disease to receive the “professional judgment budget” designation, following cancer and HIV/AIDS.
To help document the importance of Alzheimer's as a national health priority, the Alzheimer’s Association annually releases Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures, a statistical resource detailing the burden of Alzheimer's and other dementias on individuals, families, local and state governments, and the nation's health care system. Read the most recent edition.
The Alzheimer's Association works to ensure that our national policy and research agendas reflect the importance of Alzheimer's disease as a leading cause of death and disability, a personally devastating illness, and an emerging health care issue for employers as well as public and private payers. Learn more about our advocacy efforts.
We seize opportunities
We work with the global research community to quickly identify issues, gaps and opportunities. Recent needs that we have addressed include:
- Increasing clinical studies participation. A major obstacle to developing new drugs is recruiting and retaining enough participants. A free, easy-to-use clinical studies matching service, Alzheimer's Association TrialMatch®, helps inform, mobilize and motivate study participants.
- Elevating the conversation about the importance of brain health. At AAIC 2017, the Alzheimer’s Association announced a $20 million investment to launch the U.S. Study to Protect Brain Health Through Lifestyle Intervention to Reduce Risk (U.S. POINTER), beginning in 2018. This two-year clinical trial aims to test the ability of multidimensional lifestyle interventions to prevent cognitive decline and dementia in healthy older adults who are at increased risk for cognitive decline. This is the first such study to test these interventions in a diverse population with varying backgrounds.
- Obtaining data showing the impact of beta-amyloid imaging on physician decision-making and patient outcomes. The Alzheimer’s Association leads and co-funds the $100 million Imaging Dementia – Evidence for Amyloid Scanning (IDEAS) Study to determine the clinical usefulness and value of incorporating beta-amyloid imaging in diagnosing Alzheimer’s and other dementias in certain situations. Results of the study could lead to more accurate diagnosis and treatment.
- Adding onto a pioneering prevention study to learn more about the nuanced influences of the beta-amyloid and tau proteins in Alzheimer’s. A first-of-its-kind study, the Longitudinal Evaluation of Amyloid Risk and Neurodegeneration (LEARN) Study is an add-on study to the Anti-Amyloid Treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer's Disease (A4) Study. The LEARN subcomponent of A4 will follow over time individuals who do not have elevated amyloid and determine what biological changes are related to cognitive decline, including possible later amyloid buildup as well as increases in tau levels, helping to shed light on the perplexing individual variation in disease progression.
- Accelerating the transition of potential therapies from laboratory testing to clinical trials. Since 2012, the Part the Cloud initiative has raised and invested more than $29 million in Alzheimer’s translational research to accelerate scientific progress in Alzheimer's research by funding the most promising early phase clinical studies.
Learn more about additional milestones in Alzheimer's research.