O'Connor, Gingrich to headline Alzheimer's Congressional hearing today

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Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich headline the witness list today at the Senate Special Committee on Aging's hearing on Alzheimer's disease.

O'Connor recently retired from the nation's highest court to help take care of her husband, who has Alzheimer's. O'Connor serves as a member of the Alzheimer's Study Group with Gingrich. Witnesses will give an update on the latest Alzheimer's research and treatments, and emphasize the importance of training and support for patient caregivers, said Committee Chairman Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) in a statement Tuesday.

Also testifying at this morning's hearing in Washington, “The Future of Alzheimer's: Breakthroughs and Challenges,” will be Alzheimer's patient Chuck Jackson, caregiver Suzanne Carbone and Dr. Rudi Tanzi, a Harvard University professor of neurology and the director of an aging research unit at Massachusetts General Institute.

More than 4 million Americans are currently diagnosed with Alzheimer's, with the number expected to grow by a half million each year by 2010 and accelerate thereafter.