Alzheimer’s research across the state university system received hefty funding in this year’s House and Senate “sprinkle lists.”
Research universities within the system are set to receive $2.5 million split between the two chambers’ lists to study Alzheimer’s disease with the Focused Ultrasound Neuroscience Research Institute. The House set aside $1.5 million in its list, and the Senate $1 million.
Each year, legislative leaders withhold some money from the budgeting process until the end. As explained in 2015 by Jason Garcia for Florida Trend: The money can be “used to sprinkle one last helping of hometown projects into the budget in order to get a budget deal done.”
The funding for this project stems from appropriation requests filed by Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez (SF 1343) and Rep. Nick DiCeglie (HB 3505), in which the lawmakers sought $5 million on behalf of the research program.
And, after the release of the latest budget agreement, it appears the research program will receive most of the money requested — $4.5 million, with an additional $2 million coming from budget negotiations.
The funding will be directed to three universities partnering with a hospital to conduct Alzheimer’s research, utilizing an Exablate neuro-focused ultrasound for blood brain barrier disruption and targeted drug delivery.
The state health and university systems chosen to receive the donated Exablate machines will use the technology to treat Alzheimer’s patients in what the request calls “the largest global basket trial for Alzheimer’s disease for targeted drug-delivery into the brain.”
The trial is expected to treat 500 to 1,000 Alzheimer’s patients over the next six years and amounts to $60,000 per patient.
The Senate sprinkle lists also allocate $1 million to the University of Florida for Alzheimer’s and dementia research.
The project, filed through appropriations requests by Sen. Ray Rodrigues (SF 1842) and Rep. Blaise Ingoglia (HB 2201), sought $3 million for UF’s Center for Translational Research in Neurodegenerative Disease (CTRND), which focuses on developing therapies for neurodegenerative disease, like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
The project ended up receiving $2.5 million in the state’s total budget, with an additional $1.5 thrown in from the budget conference.
The boost in funding would contribute to the program’s equipment and resource expenses. According to the request, $2 million would be used to support human imaging equipment and interventional equipment, as well as the placement of staff scientists.
Of the remaining funds, $750,000 would be used as partial support for more than 30 staff scientists, post-doctoral fellows and other trainees, and $250,000 would go toward IT and database support for the 1Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.
In the request, the center expects to rely on funding from the state to the tune of more than $10 million over the next five years. The Board of Governors will be responsible for dolling out the cash.
In explaining its benefits to the state, the center cites longterm reduction in costs of advanced dementia as studies and therapies slow the cognitive decline of participants.