Global organizations support emerging leaders changing brain health and dementia landscape

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Pilot Awards for Global Brain Health Leaders fund 21 pilot projects across 10 countries

Three leading organizations in Alzheimer’s disease have joined forces to address this growing public health crisis. The Alzheimer’s Association, the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI), and the UK-based Alzheimer’s Society have united to support emerging scientists in brain health and dementia through a competitive funding program – The Pilot Awards for Global Brain Health Leaders.

The awards will fund early research projects intended to discover prevention strategies and improve care and support for people around the world living with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Recipients are outstanding researchers and professionals whose activities are set to have real world impact.

The 2018 funded pilot projects include investigating the impact of displacement and trauma on the brain health of Syrian refugees, substance abuse and brain health, music and dementia, palliative care, hearing loss and dementia, sleep and brain training tools.

With strong evidence to guide them, the pilot projects address disparities in access to treatment to improve how care is provided for vulnerable ageing populations. They seek to improve dementia diagnosis, treatment, and care for people with dementia and their families. The researchers will investigate new ways of creating social change to reduce stigma and inspire optimism and dignity for elders. The projects will also develop and refine brain health policies through evidence-based advocacy and outreach and advance the field of brain health and dementia prevention.

Twenty-one pilot projects have been awarded, spanning 10 countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, Turkey, U.K. and U.S. The total funding awarded is more than half a million U.S. dollars. The awards of $25,000 each enable the recipients to test a project and, if successful, seek further funding from other sources to scale up their work.

“The Alzheimer’s Association shares the commitment of the collaborating organizations to advance discovery and develop the next generation of brain health leaders,” said Maria C. Carillo, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer, Alzheimer’s Association. “Dementia is a pressing global health issue. These pilot projects are positive steps toward finding ways to delay or prevent Alzheimer’s and other dementias, as well as to improve care and quality of life for persons living with the disease.”

Victor Valcour, Executive Director of the Global Brain Health Institute said: “Our overarching goal at GBHI is to protect the world’s ageing populations from threats to brain health by training the next generation of interprofessional global leaders. We could not achieve the same level of impact without our partnerships with the Alzheimer’s Association and Alzheimer’s Society UK.”

Dr. James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society UK, said: “We know people affected by dementia often don’t receive the good quality end of life care they have a right to, which is why we’re funding these important innovative projects. Alzheimer’s Society is proud to unite with the Alzheimer’s Association and the Global Brain Health Institute to award funding to exceptional dementia researchers. This programme nurtures new leaders in the global research challenge of dementia – investigating all aspects from cause and risk to improving care. Their research will benefit people affected by dementia around the world, and we are excited our two UK based researchers in this programme are shining a light on new ways to improve end of life dementia care.”

There are estimated to be 50 million people in the world affected by dementia in 2018 according to Alzheimer’s Disease International. This number is set to rise to 152 million by 2050. Much of the increase will occur in developing countries. Already 58% of people with dementia live in low and middle income countries. By 2050 this will rise to 68%.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2018 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report:

  • An estimated 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2018.

  • By 2025 – just seven years from now – the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s dementia is estimated to reach 7.1 million.

  • Without a medical breakthrough, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s dementia may nearly triple to 13.8 million by 2050.

  • Total U.S. national cost of caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is estimated at $277 billion (not including unpaid caregiving) in 2018.

  • $186 billion is the cost to Medicare and Medicaid; out-of-pocket costs represent $60 billion of the total payments, while other costs total $30 billion.

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