In January and February of this year, scientists from across Canada and the United States descended upon Toronto to participate in the annual peer review meetings of the Alzheimer Society Research Program (ASRP). Their task: to critique research proposals that had been submitted to the ASRP by Canadian students, young investigators and established researchers; and to decide which projects will be funded by evaluating them on the basis of scientific merit, novelty and relevance to Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
As I sat there listening to both the Biomedical and Quality of Life panels debate topics that would make many of my former professors shed a proud tear, I thought to myself: I’m so glad they know what they’re talking about. The excitement, breadth of knowledge and compassion that panel members bring to the table each year is infectious. It makes me want to run to the nearest university, get a PhD, become an Alzheimer’s researcher and change the world.
There is an obvious hunger for dementia research. This is evidenced by the fact that
- the number of applications to the ASRP grows each year
- there are new investigators entering the field from other disciplines
- many of the scientists we have funded re-apply to the program and
- we receive applications the world over, from students who want to come to Canada to study.
What is obvious as well is that there is not enough money to fund this research.
This year, the ASRP will fund 38 investigators, investing a record $4 million, including $1 million from the help of our partner, Mother Parkers Tea & Coffee. With the additional help of the Firefly Foundation and Pacific Alzheimer Research Foundation, the total will grow to $4.5 million. We are proud of this achievement and hope to keep the momentum going so that one day, each researcher seeking funds for a worthy project will have a chance to make his or her own contribution to the field.
Wouldn’t that be something?