10 ways to fund your neurodegenerative disease research (that aren’t just the government)

NanoTemper Technologies


Neurodegenerative diseases (ND) are already taking a huge toll on the aging world population. Alzheimer’s disease, in particular, impacts more than 5 million Americans, and The Harvard NeuroDiscovery Center predicts that in 30 years, more than 12 million Americans may suffer from a neurodegenerative disease.

You and other scientists around the world are constantly looking for resources to fund projects that one day may uncover the root causes and develop treatments that will mitigate the devastating effects of these diseases.

But it’s not always easy to secure funding, is it? Although the US Congress increased Alzheimer’s research funding to $2.3 billion for 2019, researchers agree this budget is still inadequate to make significant progress.

It may make sense to look beyond traditional governmental sources like the National Institute of Health and the National Science Foundation and consider alternative funding options. Here are some of the organizations doing their part to fund innovative research in ND.


1. Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation

This organization has contributed more than $150 million to fund over 626 drug research programs in academic institutions and biotech companies. It has helped fund 20% of all Alzheimer’s drugs currently in clinical trials, and its drug development program offers up to $600,000 in funding for promising preclinical programs.


2. The Michael J. Fox Foundation

Founded by actor Michael J. Fox after his own diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease (PD), this organization funds innovative research to explore PD biology and develop innovative and effective treatments. In 2018 alone, the organization funded more than $108 million in research programs.


3. Alzheimer’s Association

The Alzheimer’s Association is the largest private nonprofit funder of research into Alzheimer’s disease, providing $167 million in grants annually into over 500 programs in 27 countries. The organization funds a diverse range of projects, including disease biology research, treatment research, and programs focused on care improvement for patients – including the Part the Cloud initiative started in 2020 in partnership with Bill Gates.


4. Huntington’s Disease Society of America

This organization focuses on three types of grant opportunities to support Huntington’s disease (HD) research: the HD Human Biology Project, which offers $150,000 two-year grants to researchers studying HD biology in humans or interventions to improve patient quality of life; $4,500 grants to fund a summer research experience for new researchers; and $80,000 career development grants for postdoctoral researchers interested in furthering their study in HD.


5. EU Joint Programme – Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND research)

This is a global research institute incorporating research from 30 countries to further the study of ND, and is currently offering more than $20.3 million for projects focused on novel imaging and brain stimulation methods related to ND. While the EU Joint Programme doesn’t provide funding for independent research, it provides researchers the opportunity to collaborate with other top researchers in the field on innovative projects around ND.


6. ALS Association

The ALS Association focuses on research into cures for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Their main focus is funding for drug development and clinical trials to cure or slow the effects of ALS, and the organization frequently offers funding calls for research proposals.


7. Alzheimer’s Research UK

This organization is a network of over 1,000 dementia researchers across the U.K. that funds both research into causes and treatment for dementia. They provide a wide variety of grant opportunities, including funding for research fellowships, equipment, and pilot projects.


8. BrightFocus Foundation

BrightFocus Foundation is focused on research around AD, macular degeneration, and glaucoma. Its Alzheimer’s research department focuses on funding a variety of fields, including molecular biology, genetics, and epidemiology. Three-year grants of up to $300,000 are available for qualified researchers selected for the program.


9. European Commission funding opportunities for brain research

The European Union has provided almost $3.6 billion in research grants for brain disorders over a 4-year period, including several programs focused specifically on neurodegenerative disorders, such as the Neurodegenerative Disease Research discussed earlier. Another program, the Innovative Medicine Initiative (IMI), is a public-private partnership between the European Union and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations and focuses on drug research and development for numerous diseases, including ND. Their open and future calls for funding are available here.


10. AgeUK

This U.K.-based organization is focused on research for the social, health, and economic issues around aging. The group conducts proprietary research, and also partners with researchers at established institutions on collaborative projects related to their fields of interest. Though it doesn’t provide funding, it provides a chance to connect with top scientists and gain access to in-depth research in geriatric medicine and wellbeing.


If you work in the field of neurodegenerative disease, these organizations can offer many opportunities for interdisciplinary research collaborations and funding for innovative projects. With their help, we hope you’ll be able to make great strides in improving the diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis for the millions of patients diagnosed every year with ND worldwide.

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