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Senate confirms new National Institutes of Health Director

Senate confirms new National Institutes of Health Director
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August 9, 2009
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Senate confirms new National Institutes of Health Director

Alzheimer’s Association Statement

The Alzheimer’s Association is pleased that the Senate has confirmed Dr. Francis Collins as the new Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). As one of the world’s foremost leaders in human genetics, Collins will bring to this new role a wealth of expertise and knowledge and a comprehensive understanding of the importance of investing in science and research.

For the more than 5 million people living with Alzheimer’s disease today and the projected 16 million who may have it by mid-century, the Association is pleased to have Collins at the helm of NIH. Alzheimer’s disease poses tremendous human, social and economic burdens on the nation as a whole and is a challenge to us all. The Alzheimer’s Study Group, an independent group of national leaders led by co-chairs Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey, revealed in their report, “A National Alzheimer’s Strategic Plan,” that the government in on track to spend nearly $20 trillion on Alzheimer’s between today and the middle of the century. As an individual who has contributed so much to science by revolutionizing the field of genetics, Collins brings a unique understanding of how the necessary investment in science can yield significant breakthroughs.

Recently at the Alzheimer’s Association’s International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease (ICAD), hundreds of studies were presented about advances in scientific research on a variety of fronts – from drugs in the earliest stages of investigations, to findings in early detection, to diagnostic tools. Results from landmark projects like the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), a $60 million, 5-year; public-private partnership for identifying Alzheimer biomarkers, continue to produce rich, robust clinical data and imaging information. This year’s ICAD was a clear indication of the real scientific progress being made but how fast we get to a world without Alzheimer’s depends completely on investment in research and Collins knows this all too well.

Over the last 6 years, federal funding for Alzheimer research has been stagnant. In no way has the funding investment matched the tremendous current and future impact of the disease poised to strike 10 million baby boomers. The personal and economic impact of Alzheimer’s is so large that no one entity can solve the problem alone.  It will require all levels of government and the private sector working together to diminish the human and economic cost of Alzheimer’s disease. Encouraged by the commitment and dedication to science and research Collins has exhibited in his long and distinguished career thus far, the Alzheimer’s Association looks forward to working with him in his leadership role at NIH in making a world without Alzheimer’s.

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