Alzheimer’s Summit Looks at Latest Research and Disease’s Impact on Minorities, Women and Caregivers

Ana de Barros, PhD avatar

by Ana de Barros, PhD |

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UsAgainstAlzheimer’s hosted the 2016 National Alzheimer’s Summit on Sept. 27–29, bringing together members of the U.S. Congress, scientific researchers, industry leaders, and people living with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) to press for greater investment in Alzheimer’s research, improvements in healthcare, and greater efforts to ease socioeconomic and cultural disparities.

The event took place in Washington, D.C., and aimed at powering industry partnerships and at motivating bipartisan support for the medical progress needed to achieve the group’s goal of defeating Alzheimer’s by 2025.

“This is not just another conference because this is not just any disease; Alzheimer’s is a cancer-sized problem demanding a cancer-sized solution,” George Vradenburg, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s co-founder and chairman, said in a press release.

The summit began with an all-day event, “Diversifying the Race for a Cure and Care: the 2016 Alzheimer’s and Dementia Disparities Convening,” that used community networks to formulate the first community-driven action plan to raise awareness, understanding and action of Alzheimer’s within minority communities. A kickoff reception on Capitol Hill was attended by a number of senators as well as community advocates.

Next day’s focus was on the latest developments in Alzheimer’s treatments, and their potential in meeting the 2025 goal. Sessions included opinions voiced by Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers, and debates on the economic impact of the disease within minority communities and among women, who disproportionally end up filling the role of caregivers.

That evening’s ‘Out of the Shadows’ dinner featured an appearance by former first lady Laura Bush, joined by a number of senators. The  inaugural Bea Lerner Valor Award was given to Greg O’Brien, author of “On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer’s.”

The summit concluded with activists and advocates meeting with lawmakers from the Senate and House to discuss what is being done to fight the disease on behalf of patients and caregivers, and to press for a higher prioritization of Alzheimer’s concerns in federal healthcare planning.

“The tremendous interest in this Summit is coming because virtually everyone has been touched by this disease. It’s bringing pain and sorrow to every community in the country and to far too many families and circles of loved ones,” said Trish Vradenburg, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s co-founder and vice-chair. “Our mission is to translate this pain, fear and loss into tangible, meaningful, game-changing action. We can see an Alzheimer’s cure in the foreseeable future, but only if we demand a full-out sprint to that finish line.”