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One in 6 people—more than 50 million Americans—is affected by a brain disease, and that number is growing. Autism and epilepsy are affecting more young people than ever. Multiple sclerosis and migraine are disabling increasing numbers of people in the prime of life. And stroke, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease are robbing people of their retirement dreams at an unprecedented rate.
New treatments are within reach, but research does not have enough funding. That's why the goal of the American Brain Foundation—the foundation of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN)—is to become the world's leader in raising money to cure brain disease.
“Research is poised to deliver new opportunities for treatments in all neurologic diseases,” says John Mazziotta, M.D., Ph.D., Chair of the American Brain Foundation's Board of Trustees, and Fellow of the AAN. Take Alzheimer's disease: Approximately 5.4 million Americans have it, and millions more family members are affected. Even modest improvements in treatment would make an enormous difference in people's lives, according to Dr. Mazziotta. “Treatment that would delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease by only five years would drop the number of people with the disease by 50 percent. A ten year delay would reduce the prevalence by 75 percent,” he says.
Public outreach is a vital component in the Foundation's efforts. The Foundation's Public Leadership in Neurology Award has recognized remarkable people who have advanced public understanding and awareness of brain disease, including actors Michael J. Fox, Dame Judy Andrews, and Jerry Lewis; television and radio journalist Leeza Gibbons; pianist Leon Fleischer; astronaut Rich Clifford; football player Tedy Bruschi; former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno; and Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen.
In addition, the Foundation holds an annual Brain Health Fair and Neuro Film Festival. The Brain Health Fair attracts thousands of people who seek more information on brain disease and want to connect with local neurologists and support groups. The Neuro Film Festival invites the public to submit, view, and vote on short videos that address the need to support research into the prevention, treatment, and cure of brain diseases.
In 2012, the American Academy of Neurology Foundation was rebranded the American Brain Foundation, reasserting its vision to cure brain disease. The AAN continues to be the Foundation's largest supporter, contributing more than $1 million annually to support the quest for cures.
Please see page 9 of this issue to learn more about how you can make an impact, or visit CureBrainDisease.org .