Notes from the Huddle: Working Together to Beat Alzheimer’s

No matter which team you cheer for, we can all appreciate the value of teamwork both on and off the field. PhRMA, Alzheimer’s Association, and the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation highlighted their promising off-the-field partnerships during last week’s event, “Alzheimer’s: The Puzzle, The Partners, The Path Forward.” The day featured speakers from a variety of key research and advocacy groups—all working to write their part in the playbook to combat Alzheimer’s.

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Discussions like these have become more important than ever considering the global scope of Alzheimer’s and dementia. The World Health Organization reports that dementia currently impacts 35.6 million people worldwide, and estimates show this could increase to over 115 people million by 2050. What’s more, the effects of Alzheimer’s reach beyond the patients themselves, as the disease can also have a significant impact on spouses, family members, friends, and caregivers.

Last week’s event focused on ways the participating organizations can better collaborate to combat Alzheimer’s diseases on a global level. In fact, one of my key takeaways from the day centered on the need for greater communication between all stakeholders in the fight against Alzheimer’s. This should include:

  • Moving beyond the national level to support international research
  • Engaging more with patients, who want greater chances to participate
  • Leveraging big data across patient groups
  • Fostering more global clinical trial networks

Through transparent, collaborative efforts such as these, we can give researchers their greatest chance at finding a cure to Alzheimer’s in our lifetime.

Here in the United States, government support for Alzheimer’s research continues to grow. Following on the release of the updated National Alzheimer’s Plan this past June, President Obama’s proposed fiscal year 2014 budget includes $100 million in new funding to support ongoing research and outreach on this disease. This marks an important step for Alzheimer’s research, but it’s just the first of many required to meet the global challenge presented by Alzheimer’s disease.

Teamwork stands as a winning strategy, from the football field to the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. Though it will take a global effort of countless individuals to find a cure for this disease, we can have confidence that working together gives us the greatest chance of reaching the goal line.