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Gingrich calls for increase in Alzheimer's research funding

WASHINGTON -- Newt Gingrich called for increasing funding for Alzheimer's research and noted at the 23rd Annual Alzheimer's Association Annual Advocacy Forum here this morning and blamed the "Washington bureaucracy and mindset" for the lack of it.

"In 1951 Jonas Salk found the vaccination for Polio," Gingrich said. "And back then because we weren't totally encumbered by bureaucracy in 1952 he had the courage to vaccinate his whole family, which is one way of proving you believe in something. In 1953, in 12 months, we vaccinated a million and 400,000 people in an experiment to see if it would work. Today, that process would take 20 years."

He spoke about how there are more scientists in the world today, yet they don't have all the resources they need to find a cure for Alzheimer's, a disorder that former President Ronald Reagan was afflicted with before his death.

"We are grotesquely underfunded," he said, adding, "We ought take all brain science off budget, fund it at the optimum level the scientific community believes we could invest and pay for it with Alzheimer's bonds, which are issued specifically with the following commitment: when we make the breakthrough, and we save the money, the first layer of savings pay off the bonds so it is a no cost long-term investment, which both saves pain and agony for families, and in the long run, saves a huge return on the investment -- and does so without being crippled by the petty annual bureaucratic funding process of the U.S. Congress."

There are not many Republican candidates for president calling for an increase in funding in any areas, considering the country's fiscal crisis.

But Gingrich added, "I think Alzheimer's is one of those issues that needs a dramatic increase in attention and understanding because for far too long it has been in the shadows for a variety of reasons. I think that if you looked at the scale and speed with which HIV/AIDS was focused on, if you look at the way cancer or heart has been focused on, you have to wonder why we have not been able to get across the key facts about Alzheimer's."

And politically, he said, "Alzheimer's should be a totally non-partisan issue, because Alzheimer's doesn't respect Republican or Democrat it doesn't respect liberal or conservative. Alzheimer's affects everybody at every part of American life and therefore we should be able to come together as Americans to have a healthy conversation with no partisanship to try and find a better solution."