Actor David Hyde Pierce made an emotional plea for increased activism around Alzheimer’s disease Monday (Oct. 17), saying that federal funding has leveled off despite scientific progress in understanding and treating the disease in the last 15 years.
Pierce, a member of the Alzheimer’s Association’s National Board, watched both his father and grandfather deteriorate and die from the disease, and watched both his mother and grandmother wither under the strain of care-giving and die of other causes.
“In those 15 years [since 1990], we’ve discovered 95 percent of what we know about Alzheimer’s. We can diagnose it with a high degree of accuracy. We can diagnose it in younger people,” Pierce said. “The funding that we’ve had has been extraordinary. The breakthroughs we’ve had with that funding have been extraordinary. But the funding has leveled off.”
Pierce spoke at a Harvard Medical School symposium, “Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain,” sponsored by the Harvard Center for Neurodegeneration and Repair. Center Director Adrian Ivinson said the event was somewhat unusual because it involved the entire Alzheimer’s community, from researchers to activists to family members to patients themselves.