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Dr. Matthew Huentelman conducts Arizona leg of 'Breakthrough Ride'

PHOENIX, Ariz. - July 29, 2010 - Dr. Matthew Huentelman of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) will trade test tubes and his lab coat today for a safety helmet and shorts as he bikes 200 miles to help increase funding for Alzheimer's disease research.

The Breakthrough Ride 2010, sponsored by the national Alzheimer's Association, started July 17 in San Francisco, Calif., and will end Sept. 21 - World Alzheimer's Day - in Washington, D.C., in an effort to encourage Congress to more than quadruple federal funding for Alzheimer's research.

TGen's Dr. Matthew Huentelman takes off from downtown Phoenix on a more than 200-mile, three-day bike ride to Holbrook, Ariz., to support Alzheimer's disease research.

Nearly 60 scientists and researchers are riding relay-style through 13 states along the 4,500-mile route to show support for the Alzheimer's Breakthrough Act (S. 1492 & H.R. 3286), which calls for increased annual funding for Alzheimer's research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to as much as $2 billion, from $460 million.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, this legislation would help fund better prevention and treatments for Alzheimer's disease, which in the long run will save the nation's taxpayers and public health programs billions of dollars.

According to the Arizona Alzheimer's Consortium - a leading research collaboration of which TGen is a member - more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's, a number projected to grow to 16 million within 30 years.

Dr. Huentelman, an Investigator in TGen's Neurobehavioral Research Unit, is an avid bike rider who averages about 100 miles a week. For the Breakthrough Ride, he will start today from Phoenix and travel more than 200 miles over the next three days, arriving Saturday in Holbrook, Ariz.

He is joined by two other researchers active in the Arizona Alzheimer's Consortium in conducting legs of the Breakthrough Ride: Dr. Michael Sierks of Arizona State University biked from Palm Springs to Phoenix; and Dr. Lee Ryan of the University of Arizona will bike from Holbrook to Albuquerque, N.M.

"The Breakthrough Ride is a unique way to raise awareness regarding the importance of research in the fight against Alzheimer's by having the actual researchers participate. That feels especially gratifying," Dr. Huentelman said. "We need to make Alzheimer's research funding a top priority in this country, as the socio-economic impact of this disease is already staggering and only predicted to increase. The devastation of our healthcare system by this single disorder is possible during our lifetime."

On this cross-country ride, according to the Alzheimer's Association, the toughest hill to climb is Capitol Hill. It is vital to correct the chronic underinvestment in Alzheimer's research and demand that the federal government create a strategic national plan to respond to this public health crisis, according to the association.

Participants in the Breakthrough Ride have established a goal of collecting 50,000 signatures in support of this new legislation. More information is available at www.alz.org/breakthroughride.

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About TGen
The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. Research at TGen is focused on helping patients with diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders and diabetes. TGen is on the cutting edge of translational research where investigators are able to unravel the genetic components of common and complex diseases. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities, TGen believes it can make a substantial contribution to the efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. TGen is affiliated with the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For more information, visit: www.tgen.org.

Press Contact:
Steve Yozwiak
TGen Senior Science Writer
602-343-8704
[email protected]

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