Jeff Burns, M.D., co-director of the University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Center (KU ADC), has been named by Governor Jeff Colyer to the Alzheimer’s Disease Plan Working Group. This group will create a plan for a rising number of Kansans with Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia that affects 5.4 million Americans and for which there is no known cure.
“I’m very happy to be appointed,” Burns said. “We will be working hard to assess the need in the state of Kansas. We will be looking at where we are now in terms of how many Kansans have Alzheimer’s disease and what kind of resources exist, and then the goal is to mobilize those resources and bring them together so we as a state can better fight Alzheimer’s disease.”
Burns oversees numerous clinical trials at the KU ADC, which is one of only 31 nationally designated Alzheimer’s disease centers by the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health. Burns says it’s critical to increase participation in clinical trials, which can be exceptionally difficult.
Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, and according to the Alzheimer’s Association, the disease and other dementias will cost the nation $277 billion this year. Burns notes that as the population ages, the disease will continue to march forward.
“This is a disease of aging, and right now one in three people over the age of 85 have it,” Burns said. “It’s more critical now than ever that we make progress in finding a cure or delaying its onset. Delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s by just five years would save our nation billions of dollars.”
Many of the trials at the KU ADC focus on prevention, and the participation of healthy older adults with no dementia is critical to their success. So far, lifestyle changes like diet and exercise seem to offer the most hope.
For information about how to participate in a clinical trial or how to access the KU ADC’s educational program, Lifestyle Empowerment for Alzheimer’s Prevention (LEAP), see kualzheimer.org or call 913-588-0555.
The video also includes a description of the lifestyle program, as well as statistics about the burden of Alzheimer’s disease.