Banner Alzheimer's Institute Gets $6.5M From National Institutes of Health (NIH) for Alzheimer's Research; Will Create 130 Jobs

Phoenix Business Journal - by Angela Gonzales

Banner Alzheimer’s Institute has received $6.5 million from the National Institutes of Health, a move that will create 130 jobs.

The grant is part of the $1 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds awarded nationwide to create and sustain jobs, promote scientific advances and improve human health. In Arizona, the money will be used to renovate and expand 18,000 square feet of research space to make room for two positron emission tomography imaging suites, a new magnetic resonance imaging suite, a computational image-analysis laboratory and pay for equipment needed to produce a range of PET radiotracers for researchers throughout the state.

These radiotracers, which are injected into the body to light up areas of disease, have short half lives, which means it’s difficult for scientists in Arizona to buy them from companies elsewhere because of the long travel distances, said Dr. Eric Reiman, executive director of Banner Alzheimer’s Institute and the project’s lead investigator.

“When we get our new systems, we’ll be able to more than address our own needs as well as other people’s needs,” Reiman said. “We will be able to produce these tracers in a much more productive way. We’ll be able to make these tracers and transport them to Tucson or Mayo Clinic or other places that need them.”

Construction is expected to begin soon and be completed before the end of 2011, he said. The project will create about 100 construction jobs and 34 permanent jobs at the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute on the Good Samaritan campus in Phoenix.

Reiman credits Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, for helping build an economic model in the grant application.

“We demonstrated what kind of return on the taxpayers’ dollar the federal government gets and the size of the Alzheimer’s market occuring in Arizona,” Broome said. “This is a lot about putting in infrastructure that not only improves human health and discoveries toward human health but leverages market position.”

Reiman, director of the Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium, said this new imaging facility will be shared with other scientists in the statewide consortium, including those at Mayo Clinic and Barrow Neurological Institute. Scientists in this consortium have worked together on projects ranging from brain mapping to tracking changes in the brain associated with the risk of Alzheimer’s disease decades before the onset of symptoms.

“We expect doing a lot more work related to evaluating prevention therapies,” Reiman said. “This is a big priority for us.”

Read more: Banner gets $6.5M for Alzheimer's research - Phoenix Business Journal

Back to news