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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Limited Funding For Alzheimer’s Research Draws Criticism

Rep. Ed Markey on Revere Beach, where his mother would take him and his brothers, before she developed Alzheimer's. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death, killing more Americans each year than breast and prostate cancer combined.

Yet in 2011, the National Institutes of Health spent over 6 billion dollars on cancer research and less than 480 million on Alzheimer’s research.

Additionally, the NIH spends $3 billion a year on AIDS research. Alzheimer’s, which affects more than five times as many Americans, receives just under $500 million a year.

Personal Experience Prompts Action

Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey’s mother developed Alzheimer’s when she was in her 80s, and he is now fighting for more funding for research into the disease.

Markey says his father cared for his mother for 13 years at their family home. The congressman often came back from Washington to help until she died in 1998.

Markey’s personal experience shaped his commitment to funding research for treatment. He’s the U.S. House sponsor of the recently passed National Alzheimer’s Project Act, a strategic plan to address the epidemic.

In the fourth part of our week-long series on Alzheimer’s, Here and Now‘s Monica Brady-Myerov explores Markey’s efforts to increase research funding for Alzheimer’s and why there is a gap in funding.

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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