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Alzheimer Europe holds lunch debate at the European Parliament

Tuesday 26 June 2012

On 26 June, Alzheimer Europe held its 13th lunch debate at the European Parliament in Brussels. The event was hosted by Liam Aylward, MEP (Ireland) and was entitled "Alzheimer’s disease in the new European public health and research programmes". There were some 55 people at the event, which featured principal speakers Philippe Cupers and Jürgen Scheftlein, both from the European Commission.

Dr. Cupers (Head of Sector for Neuroscience, DG Research & Innovation) presented "The place of Alzheimer’s disease in Horizon 2020".

Currently, research on neurodegenerative diseases - including Alzheimer’s disease - is a priority in the 7th Framework Programme (FP7). Research on Alzheimer’s disease has received funding of approx. EUR 115 million since 2007. This is expected to reach EUR 150 million by the end of the programme in 2014. The IMI and JPND programmes also provide funds for research into neurodegenerative diseases.

After FP7, the main EU funding instrument will be Horizon 2020. This programme will begin in 2014, funded with some EUR 80 billion. Alzheimer's disease does not have a specific priority within Horizon 2020, as was the case in FP7. Instead, there will be a horizontal approach - Alzheimer's disease will be addressed through all three main pillars of the programme: industrial leadership, excellent science and societal challenges.

The Month of the Brain is planned for May 2013. This will be a showcase for  FP7 achievements in brain research and forward thinking on brain research in Europe.

Mr Scheftlein (Policy Officer in charge of the Mental Health Unit at the DG Health & Consumers) presented "The place of Alzheimer’s disease in the Health for Growth programme and the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) for Active and Healthy Ageing (AHA)".

At present, there is significant investment for early diagnosis, training of caregivers and support for people with dementia and their families to maintain a high quality of life. There is an increasing level of national commitment, as Alzheimer’s disease continues to appear on policy agendas in the Member States. Strong NGOs are also very active, supporting all manner of campaigns and activities. All of these have contributed toward an improvement in the lives and rights of people with dementia.

The new EIP programme has gotten off to a good start. Diagnosis is one of the six main objectives and this has already made an impact: the EIP partners have given significant input, leading to 260 commitments for action.

The other new programme is Health for Growth. This will contribute to innovative and sustainable health systems. This includes access to better, safer health care and protection from cross-border threats.

The following Members of the European Parliament attended the debate or were represented by their assistants:

  • Liam Aylward, Ireland
  • Frieda Brepoels, Belgium
  • Nessa Childers, Ireland
  • Brian Crowley, Ireland
  • Nathalie Griesbeck, France
  • Françoise Grossetête, France
  • Marian Harkin, Ireland
  • Peter Liese, Germany
  • Astrid Lulling, Luxembourg
  • Sirpa Pietikäinen, Finland
  • Angelika Werthmann, Austria
  • Marina Yannakoudakis, UK.

Other participants included representatives from the European Commission, national policy makers, Alzheimer associations and pharmaceutical companies.

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Lunch debate June 2012