A Long Island legislator is pushing a $1 billion bond issue for neuroscience and Alzheimer's disease research that aims to make New York the top state in the field.
Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) and state Sen. David Carlucci (D-Clarkstown) announced their research initiative Tuesday at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset.
The legislation was touted by Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), who said a breakthrough that affects millions of people could be around the corner.
"There's a Jonas Salk here at Feinstein, I know there is. There's a Jonas Salk in a biotech firm in the Hauppauge Industrial Park," Israel said, referring to the creator of the polio vaccine. "Somebody's got the vaccination for Alzheimer's, I know somebody does."
If passed in the legislature, the measure would come before voters in the form of a referendum. At an estimated cost of $7 per resident per year, $100 million in research funding would be available annually for a decade, Lavine said.
Alzheimer's, a neurodegenerative disease with no cure and few effective treatments, affects more than 5.3 million Americans, more than 320,000 of whom live in New York, according to the state Health Department. That number is expected to triple by 2050.
The Alzheimer's Association, in a July analysis, predicted that Alzheimer's care could consume 24.2 percent of Medicare spending by 2040. The group says the risk of developing the disease doubles every five years after a person turns 65.Lavine and Carlucci hope to follow the example of California and Texas, which have used public bond measures to build robust stem cell and cancer research industries.
"New York State now has the rare and unique opportunity of being able to take the lead," Lavine said. "And what a day it will be when we all stand together and we announced that there is indeed a cure."
Supporters noted the economic benefits of the proposed bond measure, as research efforts expand and jobs are created. New York is currently second to California in the number of National Institute on Aging-designated Alzheimer's research centers.
Peter Davies, director of the Manhasset-based Litwin-Zucker Research Center, which focuses on Alzheimer's, said $1 billion doesn't guarantee a cure, but it would help encourage young scientists to enter the field.
"One thing I can guarantee is if we don't have these kinds of initiatives to fund Alzheimer's disease, we won't have the solution," Davies said.
A similar state bond initiative failed in 2013, but Lavine said that measure had no sponsor in the Senate.
Carlucci said he's proud to support the bill and believes it will resonate with fellow lawmakers in January.
"That's an investment that will not only save us a tremendous amount of money in the long run, but will also save so many lives," he said.