NY Legislators Push $1B Bond Issue for Alzheimer's Research

By Laura Blasey, Newsday, August 11, 2015

A Long Island legislator is pushing a $1 billion bond issue for neuroscience and Alzheimer's disease research that aims to make New York the top state in the field.

Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) and state Sen. David Carlucci (D-Clarkstown) announced their research initiative Tuesday at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset. The legislation was touted by Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), who said a breakthrough that affects millions of people could be around the corner.

"There's a Jonas Salk here at Feinstein, I know there is. There's a Jonas Salk in a biotech firm in the Hauppauge Industrial Park," Israel said, referring to the creator of the polio vaccine. "Somebody's got the vaccination for Alzheimer's, I know somebody does."

If passed in the legislature, the measure would come before voters in the form of a referendum. At an estimated cost of $7 per resident per year, $100 million in research funding would be available annually for a decade, Lavine said.

Alzheimer's, a neurodegenerative disease with no cure and few effective treatments, affects more than 5.3 million Americans, more than 320,000 of whom live in New York, according to the state Health Department. That number is expected to triple by 2050.

The Alzheimer's Association, in a July analysis, predicted that Alzheimer's care could consume 24.2 percent of Medicare spending by 2040. The group says the risk of developing the disease doubles every five years after a person turns 65.Lavine and Carlucci hope to follow the example of California and Texas, which have used public bond measures to build robust stem cell and cancer research industries.

"New York State now has the rare and unique opportunity of being able to take the lead," Lavine said. "And what a day it will be when we all stand together and we announced that there is indeed a cure."

Supporters noted the economic benefits of the proposed bond measure, as research efforts expand and jobs are created. New York is currently second to California in the number of National Institute on Aging-designated Alzheimer's research centers.

Peter Davies, director of the Manhasset-based Litwin-Zucker Research Center, which focuses on Alzheimer's, said $1 billion doesn't guarantee a cure, but it would help encourage young scientists to enter the field.

"One thing I can guarantee is if we don't have these kinds of initiatives to fund Alzheimer's disease, we won't have the solution," Davies said.

A similar state bond initiative failed in 2013, but Lavine said that measure had no sponsor in the Senate.

Carlucci said he's proud to support the bill and believes it will resonate with fellow lawmakers in January.

"That's an investment that will not only save us a tremendous amount of money in the long run, but will also save so many lives," he said.

State Lawmakers to Push for $1 billion Referendum for Alzheimer's Research

By Bill San Antonio, The Island Now, August 11, 2015

State lawmakers said Tuesday they have the support in the Assembly and Senate to reintroduce legislation for a $1 billion referendum for neuroscience research that if passed would be placed on the 2016 election ballot.

During a news conference at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset featuring the bill’s sponsors, state Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) and state Senator David Carlucci (D-Clarkstown), officials said the referendum would make New York a national leader toward the creation of a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

“They call New York ‘the Empire State’ because we’re known for doing things that people said could never be done,” Carlucci said. “...If we can build the Erie Canal, we can find a cure for Alzheimer’s.”

Approximately 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control, a figure that is expected to spike to 16 million by 2050. It is the sixth leading cause of death in America.

Lavine, who first introduced the bill in 2014, said the referendum would present a “rare and unique opportunity for New York to take the lead on this issue.”

“Not only do we have millions of people suffering from this today in our nation, but we have so many millions more in families and caregivers making sure each day and each night that their loved ones are as comfortable as possible,” Lavine said. “Surely, we can do better.”

The legislation calls for $100 million to be utilized each year over a 10-year period toward Alzheimer’s research, at a $7 per year cost to taxpayers.

Though the federal government spends about $226 billion each year on the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, annual costs are expected to reach $1.1 trillion by 2050.

About $600 million is allocated for Alzheimer’s research each year by the federal government.

“If California can be the stem cell research capital of America, and Texas can be the cancer research capital of America, and Kentucky can be the spinal cord research capital of America, then New York can be the neuroscience research capital of America,” said U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), who issued his support for the referendum, citing other states who have set referendums or used a portion of funds incurred from traffic violations toward research.

Dr. Kevin J. Tracey, president of the Feinstein Institute, said the North Shore-LIJ Health System has approximately 800 researchers working in more than 50 labs toward medical advancements.

“When it’s done right, it benefits everybody and it changes the world,” he said.

Local caregiver organizations, including the Port Washington-based Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation, also expressed support of the proposal Tuesday.

“We don’t want to just be there every step of the way,” said Tori Cohen, the foundation’s president. 5“We want to be at the finish line with you when you find a cure.”