Members of Bipartisan Alzheimer’s Study Group Announced; Political and Community Leaders Underscore Strong Support

WASHINGTON, DC – Today former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey, co-chairs of the Alzheimer’s Study Group (ASG), announced the full membership of the taskforce they have assembled to develop and advance strategies to overcome Alzheimer’s. ASG members include distinguished national leaders with careers in government, business, medicine, and academia.

“Alzheimer’s is a terrible and medically complicated disease that progressively destroys the minds and lives of millions every year,” said Newt Gingrich, founder of the Center for Health Transformation. “Our first priority has been to recruit a team with the experience and insight to identify the best strategies to overcome this mounting epidemic. Bob and I couldn’t be more pleased with the quality of the taskforce willing to join us in this fight.”

The complete list of members is:

  • Christine Cassel, M.D. – Geriatrician and President, American Board of Internal Medicine
  • Meryl Comer – President, Geoffrey Beene Gives Back® Alzheimer’s Initiative
  • Newt Gingrich – Founder, Center for Health Transformation
  • Steven Hyman, M.D. – Provost, Harvard University
  • Bob Kerrey – President, The New School
  • Henry McCance – Chairman, Greylock Partners
  • Mark McClellan, M.D., Ph.D. – Director, Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform, Brookings Institution
  • Sandra Day O’Connor – Justice, The US Supreme Court (retired)
  • James Runde – Special Advisor, Morgan Stanley
  • David Satcher, M.D. – Director, Center of Excellence on Health Disparities, Morehouse School of Medicine
  • Harold Varmus, M.D. – President, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

“With this outstanding team in place, our attention will now turn to engaging with leading Alzheimer’s experts nationwide to understand how we can accelerate the development of new treatments and provide better care to those five million Americans already battling the disease,” said Bob Kerrey, president of the New School.
The breadth of the ASG’s experience is particularly notable in federal health policy. Among its members are former heads of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the U.S. Public Health Service.

The mission of the ASG is first to assess the adequacy of the country’s current efforts to combat Alzheimer’s. Based on this analysis and wide ranging consultations it will then recommend a National Alzheimer’s Strategic Plan to address identified opportunities and accelerate progress toward its defeat. The ASG will release this plan in mid-2008.

The ASG was announced by Gingrich and Kerrey this summer. On July 11th, the ASG co-chairs joined with U.S. Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Susan Collins (R-ME), Senate co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease, Senators Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) and Richard Burr (R-NC), chairwoman and ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee’s Retirement and Aging subcommittee, and Harry Johns, President and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association, to announce their decision to co-chair this effort.

With the announcement of the ASG membership, these political and community leaders reaffirmed their continued support.

“I am honored to join this remarkable group of experts in the fight against Alzheimer’s, one of our nation’s most heartbreaking challenges,” Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton said. “As co-chair of the Senate Alzheimer’s Taskforce, I am acutely aware of the need for greater investment in research, improved diagnosis and treatments, and more support for tireless family members and caregivers. I am proud to stand with the new bipartisan Alzheimer’s Study Group as it helps lead the way on this vital issue.”
“Our nation’s investments in Alzheimer’s research have begun to pay dividends and effective treatments are within our grasp,” noted Senator Susan Collins. “Speaker Gingrich and Senator Kerrey have brought together an impressive group of concerned individuals who will help us identify fresh opportunities and find a new way forward in our battle against Alzheimer’s disease. This is important work and I commend all involved for taking it on.”

“We are in an urgent situation and we need action now. This announcement is another bipartisan step forward in addressing this epidemic,” said Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, lead sponsor of Alzheimer’s Breakthrough and Family Assistance legislation. “Alzheimer’s disease is an all American disease that needs an all American effort.” “Alzheimer’s disease affects a growing number of older Americans,” said Senator Richard Burr. “This disease is really tough on families and our health care system. With more research and study I hope we can find ways to reduce the burden of Alzheimer’s disease.”

At the ASG’s July launch, support was also extended in a written statement by the House co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease, U.S. Representatives Ed Markey (D-MA) and Chris Smith (R-NJ). They also welcomed today’s announcement of the ASG’s membership.

“Alzheimer’s disease is the plague of our generation, and there is no doubt that we must fight this disease on multiple fronts,” said Rep. Ed Markey. “We must create an action plan and enhance partnerships that support innovation and improve services both to patients with Alzheimer’s disease and their families, who often shoulder a heavy burden as their loved ones slip away due to Alzheimer’s devastating effects.”

“There are an estimated 27 million individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease worldwide – a figure expected to quadruple by 2050. This worldwide public health crisis demands a full court press to address the myriad, complex issues, and the Alzheimer’s Study Group Chairs – Newt Gingrich and Bob Kerrey – have assembled some of the country’s most experienced scientific and public policy leaders to step up to the task,” said Rep. Chris Smith.

Harry Johns also affirmed the Alzheimer’s community’s strong, ongoing support for the ASG as a fully independent effort with findings addressed to Congress, the Administration and other key stakeholders in the public and private sectors. “The Study Group could provide the prescription for relief from this devastating disease and appropriately elevate it to national priority status. The esteemed group chosen to be members of the Study Group under the capable leadership of Newt Gingrich and Bob Kerrey will offer a wealth of knowledge and experience that should provide new insights on this escalating epidemic.”

The Alzheimer’s Study Group is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization created for the sole purpose of creating the National Alzheimer’s Strategic Plan and supporting assessments. All support is from private, charitable contributions. The ASG has received generous, initial financial contributions from the Alzheimer’s Association, the Dwyer family, the Vradenburg Foundation, and Wyeth. The ASG has also received an in-kind contribution of substantial project management and assessment support from Booz Allen Hamilton for the duration of the project. The effort is being administered and managed through the Center for Health Transformation. For more information, visit the Alzheimer’s Study Group website at www.alzstudygroup.org.

Geoffrey Beene Gives Back™

All net profits from Geoffrey Beene, LLC together with the Geoffrey Beene Foundation fund the Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center at MSKCC. The Geoffrey Beene Foundation supports research for Alzheimer's, heart disease, scholarships, programs for veterans, protection of women and children and protection of animals.