$43M research initiative targets cognitive decline by merging vascular, brain science

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA), the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group and other partners are devoting $43 million to fund a research initiative for better ways to prevent and treat age-related cognitive impairment.

The collaboration comes with the recognition that vascular health, brain health and cognitive decline are all intertwined, even though most previous research efforts have focused on these areas individually.

“Bridging vascular and brain science through innovative research will help scientists shed new light on the causes or contributors to cognitive impairment and dementia,” AHA CEO Nancy Brown said in a press release. “The American Heart Association / Allen initiative in brain health and cognitive impairment represents a major step forward to better understand how our brains age and is part of the association’s ongoing commitment to understand how vascular health impacts brain health and overall well-being.”

More than 5.7 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease and that number is expected to almost triple by 2050, according to the AHA. So far, researchers have identified symptoms of the disease but not the underlying causes that could lead to prevention or treatment.

“Alzheimer’s, dementia and other cognitive ailments have become an enormous emotional and economic burden for our society,” said Tom Skalak, PhD, executive director of The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group. “This new American Heart Association-Allen initiative will create new bridges and collaborations between researchers and physicians, ultimately leading to better understanding and treatment of these cognitive disorders.”

According to the press release, the initiative will identify and fund research teams “pursuing creative, transformative ideas to move brain health and cognitive impairment science forward with greater speed.”

Research proposals are being accepted through July 6. Interested investigators can use this link as a starting point.