Dedication of the Third Issue of ‘Current Alzheimer Research’ to President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004)

Author(s): Debomoy K. Lahiri, Bryan Maloney.

Journal Name: Current Alzheimer Research

Volume 1 , Issue 3 , 2004

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Abstract:

Alzheimers disease (AD) respects not privilege, rank, nor fame. It is among the great equalizers that strike where they will and reveal the fundamental human unity we all share. In November of 1994, the world was shown this when Ronald Reagan, 40th president of the United States of America, announced that he had been diagnosed as a likely case of AD [1]. As of June of 2004, his long struggle has ended. He announced his diagnosis already having weathered ridicule based upon worn-out prejudices regarding age and mental capacity. His publication of his AD diagnosis takes on all the more meaning in such light-even though Mr. Reagan had already experienced the stereotypes many elderly have to endure regarding their mental competency, he stepped up and willingly became a target and a banner. In association with the Alzheimers Association, Mr. and Mrs. Reagan formed the Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research Institute in 1995, dedicated specifically to funding basic science research on mechanisms and molecules associated or potentially linked with AD [2]. Nancy Reagan has since been tireless as an advocate of AD research, including speaking publicly at a benefit for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in favor of US government support of stem cell research [3], a stand which may have put her at odds with long-term political allies. Their daughter, Maureen Reagan, was committed to the cause of AD research, serving as a board member for the Alzheimers Association from 1999 to her death from melanoma in 2001. Her duties were taken up by her husband, continuing the Reagan family legacy of support for AD research. She has also testified before the US Congress regarding AD and served as an honorary chair for the Alzheimers Associations Memory Walk from 1997 to 2000. In 2000 she received the Alzheimers Associations Distinguished Service Award [2]. Ronald Reagan was diagnosed in his eighth decade of life and managed to survive nearly a decade with the condition. This is more than double the median survival time after diagnosis reported for male patients in one recent study [4]. While this may point to what can currently be done when a patient fully acknowledges and seeks treatment for AD as soon as a diagnosis is reached, it also should bring to mind that current treatments, which slow but neither halt nor reverse AD progression, cannot lift the significant burden that AD puts on caregivers [4, 5]. This burden is not merely financial, but is, in the words of Nancy Reagan, “a truly long, long good-bye” [6]. In essence, a caregiver must deal with watching a loved one die twice: “There are so many memories I can no longer share, which makes it very difficult. When it comes right down to it, youre in it alone.”[6] Currently available treatments do no more than postpone the sentence that AD inflicts on its victims. We as AD researchers are caught short and humbled by every decline due to AD and the part the disease plays in a patients death, and more especially, the inevitability of ADs progression, even with complete access to the best therapies we have been able to offer. Indeed, in an ultimate sense, AD can be said to not only give no respect to rank, but precious little to treatment. It is this basic shortcoming of our current methods that saddens us most regarding the decline and death of Ronald Reagan, that it was inevitable despite our best efforts. This is not to say there is no hope. Tremendous research is currently underway in basic science and clinical settings to understand the pathobiology, genetics, and patient care issues of AD in order to find novel strategies for treatment of Alzheimers disease. To this end, a new journal, Current Alzheimer Research, has been started. This peer-reviewed research journal “is meant to disseminate up-to-date knowledge in different aspects of current AD research” [7]. Nevertheless, the difficulties they faced only served to drive Mr. Reagan and his family to redouble their efforts to see to it that researchers received the funding needed and the public receive the education needed to deal with Alzheimers disease, not only as a current problem, but to seek its causes, seek more effective treatments, and possibly find a means to eradicating it. Therefore, we dedicate this, the third issue of Current Alzheimer Research, to Ronald W. Reagan, 40th president of the United States of America and unashamed AD patient, to Mrs. Nancy Reagan, AD caregiver, survivor, and advocate, and to Ms. Maureen Reagan.

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Article Details

VOLUME: 1
ISSUE: 3
Year: 2004
Page: [iii - iii]
Pages: 1
DOI: 10.2174/1567205043332153
Price: $58

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