Oral Remarks of AHAF's Guy S. Eakin, Ph.D. before Alzheimer's Advisory Council
January 15, 2013
Let me first express my appreciation to members of the council and organizers for the opportunity to speak on behalf of the constituents of the BrightFocus Foundation. We are an organization dedicated to advancing knowledge around Alzheimer’s disease and two vision disorders. We do this through public education and direct support of research—world-wide. I have no financial interests to declare.
I’d like to take a very brief moment to congratulate the movement that this nation has taken towards developing a strategic plan to combat Alzheimer’s disease and to reiterate two messages.
The first message is that our nation’s present resolve towards spending reduction means nothing to a disease that strikes mercilessly across incomes and across geographical borders. But if we speak in terms of dollars spent and dollars saved—by now, the numbers are well known, and should be crystal clear that the cost of adequately supporting efforts to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease is miniscule compared to the cost of failing to do so.
We should also be able to agree that fully funding NAPA’s NIH-support recommendations would be transformative for research and for America, improving the lives of tens of millions people.
But I would like to touch on a second brief message, reminding ourselves that money invested in Alzheimer’s disease will benefit more than just Alzheimer’s disease. This request should not be viewed as a single-disease issue. When our nation moved resources to support research into HIV/AIDS, we saw tremendous ancillary benefits across hundreds of disease areas. As a nation, we improved how we design drugs, we shed new light on cancer, and learned much about the role of the immune system and how to manipulate it for human health. BrightFocus funds research on Alzheimer’s disease, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma.
Right now, we are watching very real struggles to bring drugs to market across the neurosciences. We should be emboldened by the assurance that the transformative potential of this recommended funding will be felt not only by those affected by Alzheimer’s disease, but across many other neurological conditions.
This has historical precedent, I want to remind you that our ability to manipulate the genomes of animals, now critically important for the study of any condition—actually started as a technical hurdle in a project funded to address Alzheimer’s disease.
And the truth of this wide-reaching benefit still resonates today. In a recent survey conducted by BrightFocus, 83% of polled scientists agreed that cognitive and visual health had meaningful molecular commonalities. This result and the remainder of that survey will be released at A-H-A-F.org on February 1st.
Thank you for the time to speak on behalf of the nearly half million constituents of the BrightFocus Foundation, who have voted with their hearts and wallets on the importance of this issue—and who believe that the investment in Alzheimer’s research that you are considering will have enormous and long-lasting benefit across diseases.
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The BrightFocus Foundation (BrightFocus) is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to finding cures for age-related degenerative diseases. The foundation funds research on Alzheimer's disease, macular degeneration, and glaucoma and provides the public with free information about risk factors, preventative lifestyles, and current treatments and coping strategies.
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