Alzheimer's-logoThe executive director of the Greater Iowa Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, Carol Sipfle, is pleased with the recent announcement by U.S. House and Senate appropriations leaders that they intend to increase spending for Alzheimer’s research in the 2016 federal funding bill.

“It is a big deal, it’s the first step in what will be a long process,” Sipfle says, “but the reason it is a big deal is we have appropriations on both the House and Senate side who are going to be supportive of a 350 million dollar increase in research funding for Alzheimer’s disease. And that is the biggest increase that we have seen in the history of this country.”

The would bring the total funding of Alzheimer’s at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to nearly one billion dollars per year.Sipfle says the funding is especially important as the number of people with the disease increases. “As the Baby Boom generation ages, they’re at the greatest risk of getting Alzheimer’s. And we keep chipping away at the stigma associated with the disease,” Sipfle says. “We want people talking about it, we want people telling their story, we want people seeking their help.”

Sipfle says there are more than five million people in the U.S. with the disease. “And in Iowa alone it is 63,000. And that’s just the persons with the disease — you multiply that by two or more — and you’ve got the caregivers. Those are the family members who are taking care of them, changing their work schedules, really kind of operating on a 24-7 second to take care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s,”according to Sipfle. She says the funding still has to pass both legislative bodies and then be approved by the president.

“But what we know that will mean — and we are going to be optimistic — is that there’ll be a significant amount more of funding available for research projects that are just waiting in the wings because there is no money to fund perfectly good projects,”Sipfle says. She says Iowa could see some benefits.

“You know, it’s too early to predict what that would mean for Iowa, but you could speculate that some of that funding will trickle down to Iowa and it’ll begin to make a difference,” Sipfle says. “But the other thing that I would say is that Alzheimer’s research is happens across the world. So, good research is happening everywhere, and good research findings are shared on a global level too.”

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