The gender gap in Alzheimer’s disease is undisputed, with women making up an astonishing two-thirds of all those diagnosed in the US. Former CA First Lady and television journalist Maria Shriver is tackling this issue head-on, partnering with the Alzheimer’s Association to form The Women’s Alzheimer’s Challenge. Founded in 2015, TWAC aims to leverage research dollars exclusively towards the study of women’s brains, hoping to unlock the gender gap mystery and ultimately lead to a cure for every person diagnosed with the disease.
Shriver lost her father to Alzheimer’s in 2003 and has been active on the dementia front ever since, writing a best-selling children’s book on the illness, executive producing the Oscar-winning film Still Alice, and publishing the seminal Shriver Report: A Women’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s. “Alzheimer’s disease attacks the whole person, the whole family, the whole community, and the whole world,” Shriver asserts. “Our strategic partnerships (through TWAC) build the backbone of this challenge as we collectively and holistically tackle this mind-blowing disease.”
The Women’s Alzheimer’s Challenge funnels its donations to five primary beneficiary organizations committed to using the funds exclusively for women’s brain research:
- The Alzheimer’s Association, the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support, and research;
- The Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, a leading non-profit which has donated over $36M to research and has been responsible for some key breakthroughs in the field, including a potential treatment selected by the NIH for its highly-selective “Blueprint” drug discovery program;
- The Lou Ruvo Center at The Cleveland Clinic, which treats patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as frontotemporal dementia. Having conducted almost 50 clinical trials, the center ranks among the largest clinical research programs in the country for Alzheimer’s.
- The Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, whose research is aimed at treatment, prevention, and cures for five of the world’s most complex neurologic illnesses;
- UCLA neuroscientist Roberta Brinton, a leader in gender-based Alzheimer’s research who has conducted highly influential studies on dementia and the aging female brain.