Rotary and Cure Alzheimer’s Fund today announced an agreement to co-fund a new, groundbreaking research project to search for female-specific genetic and other factors contributing to women’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease. In total, the two organizations will provide a grant of $375,000 for this critical research.
The total Alzheimer’s patient population is now estimated at 5.6 million in the United States and over 45 million worldwide. Two thirds of those afflicted are women. In the United States, it is estimated that more than 3 million women over the age of 65 are suffering from the disease. A woman at 65 faces almost twice the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in her lifetime as does a man of the same age and nearly three times at age 75. Yet, very little is known or understood about why women are at such a higher risk. This research will investigate sex-linked and other factors that determine disease risk, age of onset, and rate of disease progression -critical information that can contribute to the pursuit of a cure for both sexes.
“Alzheimer’s disease is decimating one out of four families in the United States and is costing the government more than $200 billion per year in medical costs. It must be stopped,” said Dee Lander of the Rotary Club of Martha’s Vineyard. “Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, with its extensive database of Alzheimer’s genetics and strong record of scientific achievement, is well-suited to conduct this research.”
“As a Rotary Member who is passionate about the important research being done to move towards the prevention and reversal of Alzheimer’s, I could not be more pleased that the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund and The Rotary Foundation have come together to support this project,” said David Clifton, member of the Rotary Club of Sharon, MA and Chair of the Alzheimer’s/Dementia Rotary Action Group. “This cutting edge research will be vital in ensuring that we continue to see breakthroughs in the study of a complicated disease that affects so many people around the world.”
The research team will be headed by Rudy Tanzi, Ph.D., Chairman of the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund Research Consortium, Vice Chair of Neurology and Director of the Genetics and Aging Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Kennedy Chair at Harvard Medical School. He has been a leading researcher in the genetics of Alzheimer’s disease for over 30 years. He recently received the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award for his contributions to Alzheimer’s research.
“We are delighted to collaborate with Rotary as we tackle one of the most difficult conundrums relating to the disease. Understanding the difference in response of women and men to the disease has been a subject that researchers have been reluctant to take on because of its complexity. The influence of the differences in the XX and XY chromosomes is one issue that has never been explored extensively. Another is the differences in the human biomes of men versus women, and then there are multiple potential causes due to hormonal and life cycle differences. These are all issues we will be addressing in our research,” said Jeffrey Morby, Co-Chairman and Co-Founder of the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund.
The initiative for this project was begun by the Martha’s Vineyard Rotary Club, with the support of the Toronto Rotary Club. Rotary funding contribution to the project was provided by The Rotary Foundation, a non-profit Charity.