Celebrating the Research and Hope Awards

Celebrating the Research and Hope Awards

09.13.12 | By John Castellani

At the Newseum last night, here in Washington, I was privileged to be part of an event honoring some truly inspiring and remarkable people. The PhRMA-sponsored event the first Research & Hope Awards, honored the outstanding achievements in academia, the biopharmaceutical research sector, and patient care advocates for their work in the fight against Alzheimer's disease.

Each of the honorees has made extraordinary contributions to finding innovative ways to approach and treat Alzheimer's. Some by spending years in the laboratory, researching new medical approaches to fighting the disease, others by improving how and where care is delivered.

Kate Maslow of the Institute of Medicine, Keck Center, was honored with The Research and Hope Award for Patient Engagement for nearly 30 years of work as a patient advocate for those suffering from Alzheimer's.

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Neha Chuahan received The Research and Hope Award for Volunteer Champion for her efforts to inspire young people to become activists in the fight against Alzheimer's and the effort to improve patient care in all settings.

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Dr. Bradley T. Hyman, MD, PhD, Professor of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Medical School, and David Holtzman, MD, the Andrew B. and Gretchen P. Jones Professor and Chairman of the Department of Neurology at the Washington University School of Medicine, were honored with The Research and Hope Award for Academic Research in Alzheimer's.

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Finally, a team of great scientists and researchers from Merck were honored with The Research and Hope Award for Biopharmaceutical Industry Research in Alzheimer's. Researchers know that the abnormal accumulation of Ab (Beta) peptides is a key factor in the development of amyloid plaques in the brain. Merck's BACE team is focusing its work on small molecules that may impact this amylodogenic pathway and is looking to engineer inhibitors to the beta secretase that initiates the Ab (Beta) peptides.

BACE is one of the most promising and intensely investigated targets in Alzheimer's disease modification. A discovery of a potent and brain active small molecule BACE inhibitor suitable for human testing is a critical research goal.

The members of the team honored are: Eric Parker, PhD, Senior Director and Neuroscience Site Lead; Andrew Stamford, PhD, Director, Discovery Chemistry;, Matthew Kennedy, PhD, Associate Director, Neuroscience; Mark Forman, MD, PhD, Director of Clinical Research; and Julia Stone, PhD, Senior Scientific Director, all from Merck.

The Research and Hope Awards exist to honor great researchers, caregivers and advocates, as well as highlight serious health and medical challenges. Alzheimer's disease is about as serious a challenge as we face today.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, the number of afflicted patients is predicted to soar from the current and already too-high 5 million to over 13 million by 2050. The cost of care is also expected to increase from the $200 billion now spent annually to over $1 trillion by 2050 (and consuming over $20 trillion between now and 2050). A new medicine that delays Alzheimer's onset by 5 years could both reduce annual care costs by $45 billion by 2050 AND reduce the suffering of patients as well as the burden on families and caregivers.

In short, we need more research and new medicines and treatments to meet the challenge. The biopharmaceutical research sector today is working on nearly 100 new medicines specifically targeting Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.

But medicines alone won't do it. That is why we proudly honor academics, patient advocates and Alzheimer's volunteers for their efforts to improve care and make care more accessible to patients in need.

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