A 21st Century Epidemic
If you knew that a comet was certain to hit the earth and kill more than 11 million Americans, would you not do everything in your power to stop its strike? Well, we know with certainty that by 2050, nearly 15 million Americans will have Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or ALS. Where is the clamor? Where are the calls for action? — Gregory Petsko, D.Phil., Gyula and Katica Tauber Professor of Biochemistry & Chemistry, Brandeis University
ALS is closely related to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s, which are known as neurodegenerative diseases. Neurodegenerative diseases are a growing global epidemic that demands our urgent attention. Unless we act now, by 2020, 1 in 25 Americans will be diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease, and half of us will have a neurodegenerative disease in our lifetimes. The financial toll of this epidemic is now over $150 billion per year — and the emotional toll is incalculable.
The only solution to this epidemic is aggressive, collaborative research that works equally to understand neurodegenerative diseases and to translate this understanding into effective therapies as quickly as possible. Project A.L.S.’ leading role in bringing top researchers together to work on ALS and related diseases has transformed the field. In the words of Research Advisory Board Chairman Thomas M. Jessell, Ph.D., “Project A.L.S., more than any other organization, has been effective in focusing research through the support of new, cutting-edge ideas and technologies. By identifying the very best scientists in their fields and promoting collaboration between them, Project A.L.S. has accelerated the pace of discovery in a dramatic manner.”