Right now, we’re in the middle of Brain Awareness Week (BAW), a campaign launched more than 20 years ago by the Dana Foundation to raise public awareness about the need for brain research. As part of the campaign, participants all over the world unite to celebrate the brain, and all its complexity, through activities such as open days at neuroscience labs, exhibitions about the brain, lectures on brain-related topics, social media activation, classroom workshops, and much more.
BAW gives us an opportunity to tell the story of the important role that clinical research plays in the lives of people suffering from dementia. It specifically highlights how collaboration can help make lives better for the millions of people currently suffering from a brain-related illness.
When Lilly scientists began researching Alzheimer’s disease more than a quarter century ago, I imagine they didn’t expect that there would be 46.8 million people worldwide living with dementia by the end of 2015. This number will almost double every 20 years, with approximately 9.9 million new cases reported each year. These estimates continue to drive our goal of improved treatment for those suffering from the disease.
Improving care for the millions of people currently living with dementia can sound daunting, which is why partnership remains key to achieving that goal. In 2015, we demonstrated our commitment to supporting research by investing in the Dementia Discovery Fund. This $100m global fund - supported by the UK government, Alzheimer’s Research UK, and a number of pharmaceutical companies – showcases just one example of how collaboration can help tackle the world’s largest health problems.
The Dana Foundation recognized the importance of partnership when they created Brain Awareness Week in 1995. Over the life of the campaign, more than 4,100 partners in 99 countries have participated in events, educational activities, and most recently, social activation campaigns around the hashtag #brainweek. This week allows us all an opportunity to educate, promote, and advocate for sustained collaboration and critical investments in research. Through continued partnership, we can work year-round to ensure that breakthrough research makes it out of the pipeline and into the hands of the people whose lives it will impact for the better.