By Bob Le Roy
Alzheimer’s disease is complicated. It is often said that no two cases are alike. We often do not know who has it or what causes it. We cannot prevent it, and we cannot cure it.
At the Washington State Chapter, however, our work is really quite simple. Its essence can be found in the three “c”s: care, cause, and cure.
For us, care is manifest in the programs and services we provide to those we serve, including our toll-free, 24/7 Helpline, assistance to family and caregiver support groups, customized and ongoing care consultation for individuals and families, and continuing education and training for family and professional caregivers.
Our commitment to the cause of Alzheimer’s is reflected in the passion and persistence of thousands of volunteer advocates—our faces and voices to their elected officials at all levels of government.
We are bringing the world together in search of a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Association is the largest non-profit funder of Alzheimer’s research in the world. Since we began funding research in 1982, we have provided over $350 million to more than 2,300 best-of-field investigators. Our International Research Grant Program funds investigations that advance understanding of Alzheimer’s disease, help identify new treatment strategies, provide information to improve care for people with dementia, and further knowledge of brain health and disease prevention. The grant program is structured to emphasize and nurture new ideas and innovative approaches.
As host of the annual Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC), we convene the world’s largest gathering of Alzheimer’s and dementia researchers to create an international discussion of the latest findings in the field. This dialogue fuels new ideas that may one day result in treatments to change the course of the disease. This year’s AAIC will be held July 24-28 in Toronto, Canada. I look forward to attending and sharing my experience with you.
We lead the World Wide Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (WW-ADNI), a consortium of international investigators working to establish globally recognized standards for identifying and diagnosing the disease. Working with the National Institute on Aging, we engaged groups of scientists to examine the diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer’s disease—which were established more than 25 years ago—and proposed new criteria, including the use of the latest advances in biomarker research.
Our Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association is a bi-monthly, peer-reviewed journal covering all aspects of Alzheimer’s research, from basic science to clinical care. The Journal is recognized by researchers and scholars around the world as a premier source of information on the disease.
The greatest obstacle, other than funding, to advancing research is the lack of participation in clinical trials. Today, at least 50,000 volunteers—both with and without Alzheimer’s disease—are urgently needed to participate in more than 130 actively-enrolling trials about Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In 2010, we launched TrialMatch, a free, confidential, interactive, online service to connect eligible volunteers with clinical trials. TrialMatch accelerates the enrollment process and allows people with Alzheimer’s to play a more active role in their own treatment while contributing to scientific discovery.
I believe there is a fourth “c”—in which you play an integral role—collaboration. We have the best chance to realize our vision of a world without Alzheimer’s when we work together. If you would like to learn more about Alzheimer’s research, please visit alz.org/research. If you would like to support our care, cause, and cure, please let us hear from you.
Bob Le Roy has been the Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association Washington State Chapter Serving Washington & Northern Idaho since July, 2011. He joined the Association as President & Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Pennsylvania Chapter in 2008, bringing with him more than 35 years experience as a development professional and change agent in the not-for-profit sector and financial services industry.