SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today awarded six grants totaling $189,997 from voluntary contributions to Illinois researchers who are trying to find a cure or improve treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
“Alzheimer’s disease robs its victims of their memories and eventually their lives,” Gov. Blagojevich said. “I am pleased by the generosity of Illinoisans to help underwrite critical research into finding a cure for this insidious disease.”
Funding for the grants comes from the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Fund, a special fund to which taxpayers can contribute through their IL-1040 income tax returns. Since the fund first appeared on the 1985 state tax form, taxpayers have contributed nearly $3.1 million to support 130 research projects in Illinois.
“The need for Alzheimer research has never been greater and each dollar donated brings us closer to finding a cure for this devastating disease,” said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director. “Today in Illinois, more than half a million people are impacted by Alzheimer's, including 219,000 people who have the disease, plus their family members and caregivers.”
Seven of every 10 people with Alzheimer's are cared for at home, with family members and friends providing most the care for a disease that lasts an average of eight years, but could range from three to 20 years, Dr. Whitaker said.
Victims of this age-related form of dementia suffer a progressive loss of memory, attention span and the ability to learn and have difficulty making decisions, communicating and carrying out daily activities. As Alzheimer's progresses, people also may experience changes in personality and behavior.
“Today there is a new and hopeful reality in Alzheimer research," said Kent Barnheiser, president and CEO of the Alzheimer's Association Greater Illinois Chapter. “Because of significant progress in the last 15 years, we now anticipate that in the next decade we'll see breakthroughs in Alzheimer treatment, as the result of accelerating insight into the biology of the disease, and in Alzheimer prevention, where we will be able to intervene in the disease process to limit its disabling effects and related cost. Research has also shown that effective care and support can improve quality of life for people with Alzheimer's and their caregivers over the course of the disease."
Grant requests were reviewed by the Illinois Department of Public Health, which administers the special taxpayer fund, in consultation with the Alzheimer’s Disease Assistance Act Advisory Committee and Peer Review Panel. Members of the advisory committee include professionals who work with people with Alzheimer’s disease, researchers, victims’ family members and representatives of the general public.
Following are the six recipients of this year’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Fund:
· Sylvie Y. Blond, Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago, “Screening for Peptides That Inhibit Amyloid Formation During Inflammatory Conditions,” $30,000
· Chih-Ju Han, Ph.D., Northwestern University, Chicago, “Developing Viral and Genetic Approaches to Rescue Alzheimer’s Disease,” $35,000
· Britto P. Nathan, Ph.D., Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, “Transgenic Models to Study the Role of ApoE in Alzheimer’s Disease,” $30,000
· Peter R. Patrylo, Ph.D., Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Carbondale, “Is Synaptic Neurotransmission Preferentially Comprised in the Aged CNS During Metabolically Challenging Conditions?” $29,997
· Carmen Westerberg, Ph.D., Northwestern University, Evanston, “Recognition Memory in Alzheimer’s Disease: Examining the Neural Basis of Preserved Familiarity-Based Recognition in Mild Cognitive Impairment,” $35,000
· Virginia L. Wilcox-Gök, Ph.D., Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, “Family Mental Illness and Labor Market Performance: The Family Burden of Alzheimer’s Disease, Part 2,” $30,000
Contributions to Illinois’ voluntary income tax funds must generate a minimum of $100,000 by October 1 each year to remain on the IL-1040 forms. As of June 3, nearly 14,300 taxpayers had donated $162,051 to the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Fund this year, ensuring that the fund will appear on Illinois tax forms (2005 taxes, payable in 2006) for the 21st consecutive year.