Smith: 'Let us Honor President Reagan with an Increased Commitment to Life-Affirming Research to Cure Alzheimer's disease'
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Chris Smith, Co-Chairman of the Bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer's disease who was first elected to office in 1980 as part of the "Reagan Revolution," made the following statement today:
"Throughout his long and incredible life, President Reagan endured many hardships including a troubled early family life, challenging times during the Great Depression, an assassination attempt, and a bout with cancer.
"Even during his final battle with the dreaded Alzheimer's disease, President Reagan persevered with honor and integrity. Throughout his decade-long battle with Alzheimer's, President Reagan and his family helped bring the horrors of Alzheimer's disease - which are currently endured by more than 4.5 million Americans and their families - to light.
"But even a decade before he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, President Reagan took the initiative to call greater attention to the condition and the needs of both patients and caregivers by declaring the first Alzheimer's disease Month in 1983.
"Thanks in large part to the leadership of President Reagan, we have made significant advances in biomedical research that have helped bring pharmaceutical products to market and have advanced the overall understanding of the pathology of this disease.
"It is estimated that the National Institutes of Health will invest more than $660 million into Alzheimer's disease research this year alone. While this represents a significant increase from where we once were, this amount will only enable the government to fund one of every four qualified research initiatives. To prevent the number of Americans who suffer from Alzheimer's from quadrupling in less than 50 years, we must grow this number to $1 billion annually as soon as possible.
"We should continue to strongly support stem cell research, and the stem cell research we support needs to be ethical and promising. It is unfortunate, and I believe in very bad taste, that some are attempting to use the passing of President Reagan to advance the small subcategory of stem cell research that involves the killing of human embryos, especially considering that research destroying human embryos has not shown any promise in developing treatments for Alzheimer's - or any other disease or condition.
"I agree with President Reagan when he said in a January 18, 1988 Presidential Proclamation that, 'from the moment of conception until natural death' everyone has the right to 'unalienable personhood.' I look forward to joining my colleagues in promoting President Reagan's legacy by continuing to fight for additional funding for Alzheimer's research and for adult-stem-cell and related tissue therapies that are already treating human maladies including heart damage, multiple sclerosis, corneal injury, spinal cord injury, Parkinson's disease, and other conditions."