NIH presents by-pass budget for Alzheimer’s disease research

Budget calls for $323 million more in FY 2017

On July 27, 2015, the National Institues of Health (NIH) released its first ever Professional Judgment Budget, also called a Bypass Budget, for Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. This plan for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 outlines the approach NIH would use to make real and lasting progress against Alzheimer's and other dementias if unconstrained by fiscal limitation. 

The document is known as a “Bypass Budget” because of its direct transmission to the President and subsequently to Congress without being modified through the normal federal budget process. Only two other diseases — HIV and cancer — have had this high-profile budget treatment. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) led the effort to develop the budget, which was presented to the Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary’s Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services at its July meeting.

NIH estimates it will need $323 million in 2017 beyond its baseline budget to meet the goal to treat and prevent Alzheimer’s by 2025 — a goal set by the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease. The submission is subject to comments from the HHS Department but can’t be altered before it goes to the White House and then Congress, although final approval lies in the hands of appropriators.

NIA proposes to make additional research investments in FY 2017, if the additional funds are made available by Congress, in several areas including:

  • Epigenetics research on the interaction of genetic and environmental factors across the lifespan, and how this influences brain aging and disease risk, with the goal of identifying potential targets for treatment and prevention.

  • Projects exploring the impact of sex differences on brain aging and disease.

  • In-depth studies of the risk-factor gene APOE, including how APOE genotype influences response to drug and nondrug interventions.

  • Research on how the disruption of circadian rhythms and sleep influence brain aging and risk of Alzheimer’s and related dementias.

The number of cases of Alzheimer’s disease in the United States is expected to triple by 2050 with the aging population. It currently has no effective treatment.