Giving Compass' Take:

• The Milken Institute argues that increased funding is needed to address neurodegenerative diseases, in spite of recent contributions. 

• How can funders best build on existing research and resources? 

• Learn how donors can make an impact on neurodegenerative diseases by funding research on tauopathies.

Neurodegenerative disease is one of the most costly national health care expenses: the 2017 costs of dementia care were greater than 250 billion dollars. However, over the next 30 years, that number is expected to increase four-fold to reach 1.1 trillion dollars annually, dramatically increasing federal spending through Medicare and out-of-pocket expenses.

Decades ago, a cancer diagnosis was a death sentence. Researchers were just beginning to understand that cancer was a broad class of diseases that would require many unique therapeutics, and funders saw the importance of basic research to uncover the cellular mechanisms regulating cancer development.

So what can be done?

In 2016 and 2017, Congress approved a 400 million dollar increase in Alzheimer’s spending. In 2017, Bill and Melinda Gates also announced that they were investing their own philanthropic dollars in Alzheimer’s research.

While these are certainly huge steps forward, we have to ask ourselves if this is enough.  Are our efforts coordinated? Are we taking the appropriate steps to understand the basic biology of the diseases or building tools to diagnose people?

Right now, the answer to these questions is a resounding “no.” However, as we continue to understand the magnitude of the crisis, these are also places where federal, philanthropic, and nonprofit funders can make a great impact.

Read the full article about the need to invest in research on neurodegenerative diseases by Cara Altimus at Medium.