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“Gearing Up” Against Alzheimer’s Disease SBUMC Prof Rides Hundreds of Miles In Support Of Federal Act

“Gearing Up” Against Alzheimer’s Disease SBUMC Prof Rides Hundreds of Miles In Support Of Federal Act

Dr. William Van Nostrand Joined Fellow Researchers for 2010 Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Ride

, November 8, 2010 – William Van Nostrand, Ph.D., Professor in the Departments of Neurosurgery and Medicine at Stony Brook University Medical Center, conducts studies on the cerebrovascular pathology of Alzheimer’s disease. During 2010 Dr. Van Nostrand went beyond the lab and hit the road as a cyclist against the disease. He along with more than 55 other Alzheimer’s researchers rode to raise awareness of a disease that is quickly becoming one of our aging nation’s growing health concerns, as well as seek support for the pending legislation to spur more research for Alzheimer’s and related diseases. 

Dr. Van Nostrand and other researchers completed a 4,500-mile collective bike ride across the United States, which began in San Francisco in July and ended in Washington, D.C., in September. Called the Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Ride, the trek united this group of national Alzheimer’s researchers. During their ride, they collected more than 110,000 signatures in support of three pending bills regarding Alzheimer’s disease. In particular, the Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Act of 2009 calls for increased federal funding through the National Institutes of Health specifically for research.

At the end of the final leg of the ride, Dr. Van Nostrand and other researchers met with members of Congress and presented them with the signatures – on September 21, World Alzheimer’s Day.

“That day and the entire event was moving and inspiring, and I hope that we as riders and researchers against this terrible disease find answers on how we can better treat people who are being robbed of their minds,” says Dr. Van Nostrand. “With the elections behind us, we hope that this legislation is brought more quickly to the floor, or soon into the coming year.”

Dr. Van Nostrand points out that because our nation is aging, and the numbers of Alzheimer’s cases are currently growing, new treatments for the disease and research should be a national priority within the spectrum of any new health care reform.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the disease is the 7th leading cause of death to Americans. Approximately 5.3 million are afflicted, and the cost of care for those with the disease generates 172 billion in annual costs and involves nearly 111 million unpaid caregivers. 

“There will be no decline in the incidence of Alzheimer’s and related diseases in the near future, and the emotional and financial burden on families, and the healthcare system, is becoming very large,” he adds. “Our nation declared a war on cancer decades ago. There should be a war against Alzheimer’s disease too.”

Dr. Van Nostrand rode 282 miles during one leg in Texas in July for the Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Ride. He joined about 40 others for the final 15-mile bike ride in Washington, D.C. Last summer he also participated in a 3.5 mile swim in Northport Bay to create Alzheimer’s disease awareness locally. He also took first place at the event, the annual Distant Memory Swim. His wife, a researcher in his lab, took first place among the women swim finishers.

A biochemist for 25 years, Dr. Van Nostrand collaborates with researchers and physicians within the Departments of Neurosurgery and Biochemistry & Cell Biology. His laboratory explores the role of amyloid ?-protein precursor and its derived fragment A? in the cerebrovascular pathology found in Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. The focus of his current research centers on pathogenic interactions of A? with cells in cerebral blood vessels that lead to cellular degeneration, loss of vessel wall integrity, and hemorrhagic stroke.

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