BAR HARBOR — The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) has received a grant of nearly $3.6 million from The National Institute on Aging (NIA). JAX Assistant Professor Gareth Howell and Harvard University Assistant Professor Beth Stevens will use the money for research into the mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease.
An estimated 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. According to the NIA, Alzheimer’s is currently ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, but recent estimates indicate that the disorder may rank third, just behind heart disease and cancer, as a cause of death for older people.
“Increasing age is the major risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, but the mechanisms are not clear,” Howell explains. “Intriguingly, some of the genetic factors known to increase susceptibility to Alzheimer’s disease are related to the body’s immune system.”
For this research project, Howell and Stevens have assembled a multidisciplinary team that includes neuroscientists, geneticists, immunologists and computational biologists from JAX and Harvard University.
U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King said of the award, “Families in Maine and around the nation work tirelessly every day to support loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders, and this funding is crucial to helping them with those challenges and improving lives. The more we learn about these diseases, the more that can be done to improve management, treatment and prevention.
Earlier this year, with Collins’ strong support, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $350 million increase in funding for Alzheimer’s research. Both Collins and King are co-sponsors of the Health Outcomes, Planning and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer’s act.
JAX is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution and National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center with 50 principal investigators and more than 1,700 employees. Its mission is to discover precise genomic solutions for disease and empower the global biomedical community in the shared quest to improve human health.