A Disease's Devastating Impact
Alzheimer’s disease affects an estimated 110,000 people in Wisconsin and 5.3 million nationwide. Each year, 400,000 new cases of the disease are diagnosed in the U.S. By 2050, it is expected to affect more than 13 million Americans.
The amount of money spent on Alzheimer’s research—$500 million per year in National Institutes of Health funding—is dwarfed by the $200 billion spent each year to care for people who have the disease in the U.S. alone. In addition, the unpaid care provided by family and friends is valued at another $200 billion.
Research in Pursuit of a Cure
The University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) already possesses a one-of-a-kind resource in Alzheimer’s research: a dataset from a longitudinal study of 1,500 people, most of whom have a family history of Alzheimer’s disease. The study, which is known as the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention (WRAP), has been under way since 2001 at the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute, housed at the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH). Now, data analysis techniques being developed and explored will allow examination of complex relationships among factors recorded in data from the study.
Through its Capital Catalyst Program, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has provided funding to the Wisconsin Innovation Initiative (Wi2) to be used to commercialize SMPH research findings. WEDC and Wi2 announced that they would provide $1 million in seed funding
—with 50 percent to come from each source—for Swoop-Med LLC, a startup and joint venture with SMPH, which has developed powerful new methods and tools for data analysis.