It’s a Wrap for the Research Summit

Martha Snyder Taggart, BrightFocus Editor, Science Communications
  • Science News
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National Institute of Health’s 2015 Alzheimer's Disease Research Summit participants talking with one another.

BETHESDA, MD.—The National Institute of Health’s 2015 Alzheimer's Disease Research Summit ended yesterday on a high note—and a noisy one—as the organizers blasted the Beatles’ classic, “Revolution,” in its closing moments. The piped-in music forced participants to raise their voices as they finished their last spirited conversations. No one seemed to mind! (Story continues below.)

Closing remarks were offered by Dennis Gillings, PhD, founder and executive chairman of Quintiles, a global pharmaceutical giant. He provided a perspective on parallel efforts in the United States and on the World Dementia Council (WDC) to make good on a promise to accelerate progress on Alzheimer’s and find a cure by 2025. Last year, Gillings was appointed special envoy to represent WDC.

Gillings, like others, harked back to the original purpose of this biennial summit, which is to get all stakeholders aligned behind the ambitious goal of achieving an effective means of prevention or treatment of Alzheimer's disease by 2025. That's the goal contained in the U.S. National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease, adopted in 2012.

"I believe we will do it," he said. "You have to believe to achieve."

He recapped the progress so far towards five goals the WDC believes are necessary to achieve an Alzheimer's cure. They include specific accomplishments to integrate drug development efforts and finance potential cures, as well as to promote “open science,” risk reduction, and improvements in Alzheimer’s care.

Over the two days of the summit, there was rich exchange among stakeholders involved in all areas of Alzheimer’s research. Regarding science, in particular, numerous collaborative public-private research projects and offers of support were revealed. Participants included bench scientists hunting for culprit genetic mutations and disease mechanisms, to clinicians seeking evidence-based standards for diagnosis and care, to patient advocates looking for ways to alleviate their loved ones' suffering.

Several speakers commented on the mood of urgency and optimism in the group. “Can you feel it?,” one said as the opening to his presentation.  

WDC also is meeting in Washington, DC, this week, and updated recommendations will be issued from both it and the NIH summit. Look for more details in this space.

Meanwhile, here are those memorable Beatles lyrics from 1968:

You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We'd all love to see the plan