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nition. Nearly 5.3 million Americans are currently living with AD, which impacts their work and social lives. However, AD is by no means a disease that only impacts Americans. In 2006 the global prevalence of AD was 26.6 million. By 2050 an estimated 1 in 85 individuals could be living with the disease (Brookmeyer et al., 2007; United Nations, 2007). Although a great deal of research and funding by both the public and private sectors are being invested to understand the pathophysiology of AD, no cure has been found.

Valley of Death

Translational research in the neurosciences is advancing as a result of sophisticated tools and the availability of solid data, but the burden of disease remains great. For translational research in general, an ongoing challenge is bridging the “valley of death,” the gap between federally funded early research and innovation and product development that is generally conducted by commercial entities. Later stage product development presents numerous challenges: costs are steep and failure rates are high, and pharmaceutical and medical device companies increasingly are becoming risk averse.

The neurosciences, like many other biomedical fields, lack a consistent interface between basic academic research and private-sector product research and development. A cultural gap separates these two worlds. Academic researchers are often uncertain about what exactly the pharmaceutical and diagnostic developers are seeking, and how academic researchers can best contribute to a productive partnership. The result of this disconnect can be stagnation of innovation and misdirected resources and efforts.

Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative

These barriers have been highlighted as concerns in the development of biomarkers and therapies for Alzheimer’s disease. To begin to address these challenges, in 2004 the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 20 private-sector corporations,2 and the phil-


As of September 2010, the following private-sector entities supported ADNI: Abbott, Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, AstraZeneca, Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Eisai Inc., Elan Pharmaceuticals, Inc., GE Healthcare, Genentech, Inc., GlaxoSmithKline, Innogenetics N.V., Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly & Company, Medpace, Inc., Merck & Co., Inc., Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, Pfizer Inc, F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., Schering-Plough, Synarc, and Wyeth.

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