Help Needed: Alzheimer’s Researchers!

by Nancy Wurtzel on February 24, 2016

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Money Attracts the Best Alzheimer’s Researchers

It’s no secret money attracts the best and the brightest.  In the U.S., we’re on the cusp of significantly bumping up NIH monies for Alzheimer’s research.  However, we may find that there is a high price for delaying funding for so long. The many years of woeful under-funding, has caused some of the best and the brightest Alzheimer’s researchers to leave the field.

Bottom line: The money for Alzheimer’s wasn’t there, so researchers moved on to other diseases.

It makes perfect sense when you think about it.

Why would talented scientists — especially those just launching their careers — focus on Alzheimer’s disease when established researchers are struggling year-after-year to secure funding?

Once again, just when it looks like we are taking a big step forward, I hear the little voice inside my head saying, “Uh-oh, Not So Fast.”

I hate that little voice.

I also hate learning that we may not have enough top-tier scientists to effectively lead the research when the funding finally comes through.  That’s a bitter pill.

Alzheimer’s Researchers Leaving the Field

dementia symptoms-alzheimer's-memory loss-aging-elderly-cognigitive lossEvidently, Britain is ahead of the curve on this subject.  It has identified some troubling trends outlined in this article titled, “Dementia Scientists are Leaving the Field in Droves, We Need to Keep Them, published a few months ago in The Guardian, one of Britain’s largest newspapers.

“Our latest review at the Alzheimer’s Society has found that five times fewer researchers choose to work on dementia than cancer, and 70% of those that complete a PhD on dementia no longer work in the field after just four years,” said James Pickett, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society.

The article delves into what steps would be helpful in attracting and retaining dementia researchers.  Actions like identifying and solving scientific career bottlenecks and career gaps, investing in PhD’s and researchers in related fields and encourage clinicians to switch to academemia.  This is a really interesting article and I encouarge you to give it a read.

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