Alzheimer's disease (Alzheimer's, AD) is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States (U.S.), claiming the lives of more than 500,000 individuals each year. Today, approximately 5.3 million Americans are living with this disease. AD burdens the U.S. with a project economic cost of $226 billion in 2015, and is on pace to cost $1.1 trillion in 2050. Although AD is widely recognized as an epidemic by individual nations as well as by the World Health Organization, progress in AD clinical research and integrated care has been modest at best. Key challenges to combating this disease include:
- Poor understanding of disease onset and progression
- Gaps in funding to support high-risk research efforts
- Insufficient research tools and companion resources
- Lack of disease-modifying treatments
Limited public awareness of its societal impact In order to avoid the economic and social catastrophes caused by AD, we must address these deficiencies. Strategic focus on funding high-impact research and critical infrastructure to support both AD research and patients are essential to achieving this goal. The Milken Institute Philanthropy Advisory Service has developed this Giving Smarter Guide for Alzheimer's disease to help patients, supporters, and other stakeholders understand the state of the science and how they can help accelerate research progress. Although philanthropy accounts for only 3 percent of medical research funding, it can have an outsized impact if it is strategically focused. This guide will help to answer the following questions:
- What are key facts about the disease?
- Why is it important to invest in AD research?
- What is the current state of care?
- What is the current state of research?
- What are major barriers to progress?
- How can philanthropy advance a cure for AD?