Funding for Alzheimer's research in question

The $80 million President Obama designated to Alzheimer's research could have more strings attached to it than previously thought, a key senator has said.

“I'm a strong supporter of Alzheimer's research, but this $80 million isn't happening,” Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), said during a hearing on the National Institutes of Health's fiscal 2013 budget last week. “NIH has the flexibility to direct a larger share of its funding to Alzheimer's research within its own budget assuming two things: one, there are enough scientific opportunities to warrant an increase, and secondly that researchers submit enough high-quality applications.”

Harkin said he was concerned because the $80 million Obama allocated for research was to be taken out of the Prevention and Public Health Fund. Siphoning funding out of this reserve would be inappropriate because Alzheimer's research has not yet produced any proven preventive measures, Harkin said.

He is the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriation's Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, which held the hearing.

The $80 million was allocated by an Obama Administration initiative to find a new treatment for the disease by 2025. The initiative was launched earlier this year.

Click here to watch a webcast of the hearing.