Congresswoman Linda Sánchez

Congresswoman Linda Sánchez

Congresswoman Linda Sánchez was recognized for her work as an advocate for Alzheimer’s research and care at the Feb. 12 conference, The Many Faces of Dementia, in downtown Los Angeles. The Pioneer Award was presented by the Alzheimer Disease Research Center.

Sánchez told attendees why she feels this cause is so important.

“This issue is very personal to me,” she said in a prerecorded speech that was shown during the conference. “My father, like millions of others, suffers from this tragic disease. It’s difficult for me to talk about, but I share his diagnosis because I know I’m not alone.”

Sánchez is on the Bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s disease and was a co-sponsor of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in 2011. The law ensures that ethnic and racial populations who are at higher risk from Alzheimer’s be included in the government’s efforts on research, care, and home and community-based programs. More recently, Sanchez supported a government funding measure that included an increase in funding for Alzheimer’s research of $350 million, which increases the Alzheimer’s NIH budget by more than 50 percent.

The Congresswoman has been a supporter of the NIH-supported USC Alzheimer Disease Research Center for many years. Sánchez pointed out that this funding will directly affect the Keck School.

“With the recent increases in federal funding for Alzheimer’s research, programs like the new Stephens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute, the Alzheimer’s Therapeutic Research Institute and the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute can all kick their research into even higher gear, positioning USC to become an Alzheimer’s research powerhouse right here in our backyard.”

Helena Chui, MD, chair of the department of neurology and a featured speaker at the conference, said that this support is integral to the research and patient care challenges in combating this disease.

“The $350 million is the first time we’ve seen a significant increase in funding,” Chui said. “It’s very important because there are 5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s now and another 5 million will be added every 10 years. “

by Amanda Busick