On Aug. 22, the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (NRI) at Texas Children’s Hospital, and Baylor College of Medicine partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association, the largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s disease in the world, to host the 2017 Alzheimer’s Congressional update at the NRI. The purpose of this event was to highlight research advances in Alzheimer’s disease to Houston-area congressional representatives.
Alzheimer’s is an incurable, neurodegenerative disease that affects 5 million Americans and their families, costs the nation $259 billion annually and is the sixth leading cause of death. Continued support from Congress and the federal government to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is crucial for researchers to continue their efforts to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
United States Congressmen Brian Babin, Al Green, Gene Green, Pete Olsen and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, along with staff of United States Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, were among the distinguished guests who spoke at and attended the event.
Leaders of the participating host institutions, Dr. Huda Zoghbi, director of the NRI; Dr. Eli Mizrahi, chairman of Neurology at Baylor; Mark A. Wallace, president and chief executive officer of Texas Children’s; Dr. Paul Klotman, president and chief executive officer of Baylor; Dr. Mark Kline, physician-in-chief at Texas Children’s; and Richard Elbine, chief executive officer of the Houston and Southeast Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, welcomed and addressed the esteemed guests.
Dr. Julie Kutac, missions and development officer of the Alzheimer’s Association, spoke about the urgent need for new early-stage biomarkers and a treatment pipeline for Alzheimer’s disease, as the currently available drugs only prolong onset of symptoms, but do not resolve or reverse them.
NRI physician-scientist Dr. Joshua Shulman eloquently described how animal models (fruit flies and mice) have helped researchers in identifying some potential early-stage diagnostic and therapeutic options and reiterated that rapid strides in research are only possible with the enthusiastic support of the federal government, NIH and philanthropic families.
The event concluded with a tour of three, world-class NRI laboratories where innovative research on Alzheimer’s disease is taking place.