December 2010

Congress Passes Legislation to Establish a National Council on Alzheimer’s Disease

On December 15, the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) was approved by Congress. NAPA establishes an inter-agency Alzheimer’s advisory council within the Department of Health and Human Services that is responsible for coordinating and overseeing government efforts on Alzheimer’s disease and to develop a plan to combat the disease. Implementation of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act follows through on a key recommendation from the Alzheimer’s Study Group, which issued a report in 2009 calling on Congress to create a national office dedicated to addressing the disease.

Passage of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act was supported by many ACT-AD member organizations including the Alliance for Aging Research, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, the American Academy of Neurology, and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, among others. The bill has been cleared for the White House and is expected to be signed into law by the President.

Advocates Meet with NIH Director on Urgent Need for Increased NIA Funding

Representatives from several leading Alzheimer’s and aging organizations met with Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, on December 17 to express an urgent need for more financial resources to be devoted to research made possible by the National Institute on Aging (NIA). During the meeting, Dr. Collins was given a letter signed by 436 researchers, clinicians and other influential individuals who support a $300 million increase in funding for the National Institute on Aging in the fiscal year 2012 budget.

Advocates who made presentations at the meeting highlighted their feeling that a historically low pay line for NIA investigators (8%) is inappropriate when compared to scientific opportunity and the demographic reality of Baby Boomers beginning to turn age 65 in 2011. In particular, the expected staggering increase in prevalence and costs associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related chronic diseases will require sustained advances in medical research. Without them, the health challenges of our aging population may cripple all efforts to control federal spending on healthcare.

Dr. Collins found the case compelling and said that aging and Alzheimer’s research will be an important priority at NIH. However, he expressed deep concern about overall NIH funding levels. We believe continued advocacy for NIH funding levels that increase by at funding levels. We believe continued advocacy for NIH funding levels that increase by at least the rate of biomedical inflation will be necessary to successfully secure an increased level of resources for the NIA.