Representative Nita Lowey

Representing the 17th District of New York

Lowey Announces $2.4+ Million Federal Grant for Burke Medical Research Institute

April 13, 2016
Press Release

Investment will Support Innovative Alzheimer’s Research

White Plains, NY – Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (Westchester/Rockland), the Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Committee, today announced a grant totaling $2,437,958 from the National Institute on Aging (NIA), one of the National Institutes for Health (NIH), for the Burke Medical Research Institute in White Plains to study mitochondrial and metabolic dysfunction in age-related neurodegeneration.

“More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, which is not only tragic for individuals suffering from this disease but also imposes significant financial and emotional burdens on family members caring for Alzheimer’s patients,” said Lowey. “I’m pleased this grant will allow the Burke Medical Research Institute to continue its world-class research by studying innovative ways to treat, slow, and ultimately cure Alzheimer’s. Since I joined the Appropriations Committee, funding for the NIH has nearly tripled, and I will continue working to increase investments in life-saving medical research that will also bolster the economy of the Lower Hudson Valley.”

“We are excited, pleased and honored to have this support, and we really appreciate the work that the Congresswoman does to keep the NIH budget up, because it is essential in our fight against disease,” said Dr. Rajiv R. Ratan, Executive Director of the Burke Medical Research Institute.

While many NIH grants support individual labs, this funding will support collaborative efforts among four different laboratories, two at Burke and two at Weill Cornell, of which Burke is an affiliate. According to Burke Medical Research Institute, many of the predominant treatment strategies and billions in private research have focused on eliminating toxic proteins in the brain, like senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. This project, led by Burke scientist Gary Gibson, PhD, will focus instead on abnormal utilization of glucose in the brain and understanding how glucose and the powerhouses of the cell, the mitochondria, can be essentially normalized to produce energy to allow normal cognition and thinking.

“This grant takes a whole different approach and says the problem is not primarily the build-up of toxic proteins but the failure to use glucose properly,” said Ratan.  “Significant support of the type we got in this grant offers the promise that we can get closer to a cure for Alzheimer’s.”

Since 1974, the NIA has been at the forefront of research activities dedicated to understanding the nature of aging, supporting the health and well-being of older adults, and extending healthy, active years of life for more people. The NIA’s research program covers a broad range of areas, from the study of basic cellular changes that occur with age to the examination of the biomedical, social, and behavioral aspects of age-related conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Burke Medical Research Institute was also recently awarded a National Eye Institute grant of $425,000 to study vascular control in diabetic retinopathy.  Lowey fought to include a $2 billion increase in NIH funding in the December 2015 year-end omnibus government spending bill to make more grants like these possible.