Marshall Announces Funding for Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease
(Washington, DC, March 23, 2021) – Today, U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. announced the University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Center received more than $1 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to study how exercise supports memory and thinking as we age to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Studies show that exercise can slow and prevent Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia by stimulating the brain to maintain current connections and make new ones.
“We have always known that exercise does a body good, but research has begun to show us just how beneficial physical activity is to our minds as well,” said Senator Marshall. “As a physician, I always promoted physical activity and as a member of Congress, I have prioritized research and innovation to find solutions to our most common problems and illnesses. Alzheimer is a horrible disease that claims far too many lives each year. I applaud my alma mater, the University of Kansas, and all researchers for their continued work to defeat this disease.”
The project, funded by the National Institute on Aging, will investigate how exercise supports memory and thinking, especially as people age. Specifically, researchers at KU’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center will enroll 280 people, age 65 to 80 years, without memory or thinking changes, into a 52-week exercise intervention to test the combined and independent effects of endurance and resistance training on memory and thinking, brain structure, and physical function.
The researchers note that the number of older Americans will double in the next four decades to nearly 90 million – placing an unprecedented financial and resource burden on the health care system. It is estimated that Alzheimer’s and other dementias will kill one in three seniors, and kills more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. In addition to the emotional and physical toll it has on affected Americans, it costs the economy $305 billion and will triple to over $1.1 trillion by 2050.
Overall, the researchers seek to demonstrate which types of commonly recommended exercise can benefit memory, so they can encourage the public to adopt more active lifestyles and perhaps reduce dementia risk. Studies show that regular exercise increases blood and oxygen flow in the brain and helps brain cell health. In total, the KU’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center received $1,375,262.
Since joining Congress, Senator Marshall has prioritized robust federal funding at the National Institutes of Health to help spur innovation, as well as federal grant funding for Kansas to educate family members and community members on assisting Alzheimer’s patients. As a strong supporter of the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act, Dr. Marshall seeks to improve the training of health professionals in palliative care, increase the size of this workforce, and enhance research in this field to build best practices. More recently, Dr. Marshall helped pass the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which included increased federal research funding for the National Institutes of Aging and targeted research to better understand Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.