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Obama budget to include $80 million more for Alzheimer's research

February 07, 2012|By Noam N. Levey
  • Eli Boyer, 91, takes a private ping pong lesson at the nonprofit Sport and Art Educational Foundation. Organizers of the nonprofit point to a Japanese study that suggests the sport offers therapeutic benefits to individuals suffering from Alzheimer's as well as dementia.
Eli Boyer, 91, takes a private ping pong lesson at the nonprofit Sport and… (Mariah Tauger/ Los Angeles…)

Reporting from Washington — With the president preparing to unveil his final budget proposal before the November election, the Obama administration announced plans Tuesday to dramatically boost funding for research into Alzheimer's disease.

Administration officials said the president would propose an additional $80 million in research funding next year, up from about $450 million this year.

The president will also call for another $26 million in funding to help support family and others who care for Americans suffering from the disease.

"This new funding will accelerate NIH efforts to use the power of science to develop new ways of helping people with Alzheimer's disease and those at risk," National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis S. Collins said.

Collins, who said NIH would dedicate another $50 million in existing research funding specifically for Alzheimer's research, said the push for more funding comes as scientific breakthroughs are offering researchers hope that meaningful treatments may be within reach.

Researchers, Collins said, are "poised for some great discoveries."

About 5 million Americans currently suffer from Alzheimer's, a degenerative form of dementia that primarily affects the elderly. But while the number of people with the disease is expected to grow dramatically as the population ages, there is currently no cure.

That has galvanized patient advocates, and in January 2011, Obama signed legislation calling for a national plan to combat the disease.

Tuesday's announcement was cheered by many advocates, who have been furiously pushing the administration and lawmakers on Capitol Hill to preserve research funding as pressure builds in Washington to slash federal spending.

"The administration's efforts to carve out funds for Alzheimer's disease despite the challenging fiscal environment signals its ongoing commitment to this devastating disease and helps pave the way for scientific discoveries that can potentially change lives and save lives," said Eric J. Hall, president and chief executive of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America.

noam.levey@latimes.com

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