A Big Gift for Alzheimer’s, in Atlanta

Alzheimer’s is one of the great health scourges of our aging society. It’s hard to treat and even harder to control, and there’s no cure. So knowing all this, how many NIH-approved research centers do you think exist the U.S.? At least fifty, right? Wrong. There are 13, and only one in the entire Southeast. That would be the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Emory University, in Atlanta. The center recently announced a nice $25 million gift from the Goizueta Foundation.

Roberto Gozuieta was CEO of Coca-Cola from 1980 to his early death from lung cancer in 1997, at age 65. In 1992, he established the Gozuieta Foundation to give to charitable causes—health care, education, leadership, and creativity. The foundation is super-transparent, and it focuses its giving specifically on the 10-county Atlanta metropolitan area.

With this gift, the center at Emory hopes to focus on early “proof-of-concept” initiatives, giving ADRC researchers the leg up to take promising ideas from the lab to the NIH and beyond—into the community. Of course, federal government cutbacks have hit Alzheimer’s researchers as hard as they’ve hit anyone, so this sort of risky venture is vital in this grantspace. Plus, the costs of treating Alzheimer’s are absolutely ballooning, and analysts project that, if left unchecked, the total cost of caring for Alzheimer’s patients in the U.S. will grow to $1.2 trillion per year by 2050.

"Our father believed in making smart investments where the outcomes may be uncertain but the rewards could be great," said Goizueta Foundation chair and CEO Olga Goizueta Rawls. "It's likely that everyone in the Atlanta community and beyond knows someone who has been affected by some form of dementia, such as Alzheimer's. We believe that strengthening Emory's ADRC will help generate the much-needed support for innovative research for all neuro-related diseases." 

Sounds like money well spent to us.