On June 22, 2011, the Coalition for Imaging and Bioengineering Research (CIBR) co-hosted two congressional briefings on advances in imaging technology and Alzheimer’s disease research. Held on both the House and Senate sides of the Capitol, these briefings were cosponsored by the Alliance for Aging Research, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, and USAgainstAlzheimer’s, as well as Senator Warner (D-VA) and Congressman Smith (R-NJ). These types of collaborations play an important role in CIBR’s education and advocacy efforts by giving Members of Congress and congressional staffers the opportunity to learn more about the research that is supported by the NIH.
The presentations focused on the progress that researchers have made towards using biomedical imaging to diagnose — and someday, potentially treat — Alzheimer’s disease. According to one of the presenters, Daniel Perry, the President and CEO of the Alliance for Aging Research, in the next 18 years 10,000 adults a day will turn 65 years old. As a result of this “Silver Tsunami,” Alzheimer’s research needs more attention than ever before.
Following Mr. Perry’s speech, Richard Hodes, MD, the Director of the National Institute on Aging (NIA), emphasized the importance of using imaging to detect early brain changes and track the effectiveness of treatment. Neil Buckholtz, PhD, the Chief of the Dementias of Aging Branch of the Division of Neuroscience at the NIA, followed by showing part of a documentary entitled “The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer’s.” This video depicts the work of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and Massachusetts General Hospital on Pittsburgh Compound B – a radioactive compound that, when coupled with positron emission tomography (PET) scans, allows researchers to see the location and distribution of the beta amyloid plaque deposits that are associated with Alzheimer’s.
Following the video, Srinivasan Mukundan, MD, PhD, the Section Chief of Neuroradiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, discussed the importance of using imaging to help families of Alzheimer’s disease patients make better decisions about treatment options. Since symptoms of Alzheimer’s can mimic other diseases, Dr. Mukundan also discussed the importance, particularly in a large hospital, of differentiating Alzheimer’s patients from other patients with less severe forms of mild cognitive impairment. In addition, during the briefing in the House of Representatives, Congressman Smith spoke about the efforts of the bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s disease.
The briefings concluded with a presentation by Sue Peschin from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, who highlighted the need for increased funding for the NIA so that it can continue to support this important research.
CIBR was pleased to help facilitate this series of briefings and to highlight the hope that imaging research is giving to Alzheimer’s patients and their families. In the upcoming months, CIBR plans to hold similar presentations on other topics of interest to its membership. If you would like to work with CIBR on this initiative, please contact Roxanne Yaghoubi ([email protected]).