National Institute on Aging Advances Wicker’s ‘EUREKA’ Plan
Agency Begins Implementation of Prize-Based Competition to Find Alzheimer’s Cure
November 7, 2017
WASHINGTON – The National Institute on Aging (NIA) has begun the process of implementing U.S. Senator Roger Wicker’s, R-Miss., proposal to create prize-based competitions in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. Wicker’s “Ensuring Useful Research Expenditures is Key for Alzheimer’s (EUREKA) Act” became law in December 2016 as part of the “21st Century Cures Act.”
“This is a time of tremendous hope for millions of Americans who suffer from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia,” Wicker said. “I believe that prize-based competitions, which pay only for success, will help spur advancements in technology and increase our understanding of these terrible afflictions.”
NIA released a Request for Information on November 2 to collect public input and suggestions on the development of the EUREKA prize for Alzheimer's disease research. Additional background information is provided in the RFI. All comments should be submitted electronically by email to NIAPrizeInput@nih.gov by 11:59:59 pm (ET) on December 31, 2017.
The plan does not replace other funding and research initiatives for Alzheimer’s but adds another route for breakthroughs. The law requires the agency to establish prize challenges to combat our nation’s most devastating and costliest diseases, including Alzheimer’s.
Prize challenges enable government sponsors to pay only when a prize team achieves specified goals or milestones. Although funds will be authorized and reserved for awards, prizes will only be granted when teams achieve clearly defined objectives, making the “EUREKA Act” a cost-effective tool to spur leading-edge research.
NIH has set a goal of curing Alzheimer’s by 2025. Today, Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in America and has a 100 percent fatality rate. According to a report released earlier this year, caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is estimated to cost the United States $259 billion in 2017, with one in five Medicare dollars spent on an Alzheimer’s victim. Unless a cure is found for Alzheimer’s, treatment costs are expected to grow to an estimated $1.1 trillion by 2050. In Mississippi, 12 percent of senior citizens have Alzheimer’s. The number of victims is expected to rise 22.6 percent by 2025, increasing from 53,000 to 65,000.
“EUREKA” was supported by more than 70 organizations, including the XPRIZE Foundation, Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, Alzheimer's Association, Eli Lilly and Company, BrightFocus Foundation, and the MIND Center at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.