The plan would provide $20 billion in funding to the National Institutes of Health to research Alzheimer's and other dementia-related conditions. It would be a sizable increase over the $350 million Congress dedicated to Alzheimer's research in the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill for 2016.
Clinton's funding pledge is part of a broader proposal that includes support for caregivers of those with dementia with a number of tax incentives.
Clinton's campaign unveiled the plan during a call with reporters Tuesday morning. Clinton herself was scheduled to discuss the plan later Tuesday at an event in Iowa.
Robert Egge, executive director of the research advocacy group Alzheimer's Impact Movement, participated in the Clinton campaign's call and said the proposal marked the first time a presidential candidate had presented a plan targeting the disease, which affects more than 5 million Americans and whose numbers are expected to triple by 2050.
“Age is the largest risk factor for Alzheimer's disease,” Egge said. “And we are an aging population.”
Last month, Clinton announced her proposal to provide a 20% tax credit to offset up to $6,000 in caregiving costs for elderly family members for a maximum $1,200 a year.
Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 84,000 in 2013 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but remains the one cause out of the top 10 for which there is no effective means to prevent it, treat it, or slow its progression.
Advances in research of the disease have led to a number of discoveries in recent years, including the development of a new drug that could block a protein known to be associated with progression of Alzheimer's.
But further advances have been hindered by a lack of adequate funding, said Dr. Rudolph Tanzi, professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and director of the Genetics and Aging Research unit at Massachusetts General. Tanzi, who also participated in the Clinton campaign's announcement, said limited resources have led research to focus mostly on the four genes discovered in the 1990s while two dozen or more genes related to disease have been identified since that time.
“Our main bottleneck in this field has been funding,” Tanzi said. “We are budget constrained, not knowledge constrained—if we have more money for Alzheimer's disease we will many more shots on goal, many more genes being studied.”