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History & Mission


The Wisconsin Alzheimer's Institute's (WAI) was established in 1998 as a center within the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (UWSMPH). The original concept for the WAI came from a coalition of service providers, community-based organizations, educational institutions and advocates organized by the Wisconsin Bureau on Aging and Long-Term Care Resources and the Helen Bader Foundation in Milwaukee. These original efforts have made the WAI a public/private partnership with a vision of collaboration with state and local partners to provide service, outreach, education and research that improve the lives of the people of Wisconsin.


The WAI receives core funding from the State of Wisconsin, research funding from the National Institute of Health and program funding from the Helen Bader Foundation. These funds are used for research in Alzheimer's disease prevention (Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer's Prevention) and programs and services that support persons and families affected by the disease.


In 2006, under the direction of Mark Sager, MD, the WAI received $3.5 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support research in Alzheimer's disease prevention, the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer's Prevention (WRAP). WRAP is a nationally recognized study of over 1300 asymptomatic adult children of persons with Alzheimer's disease with a primary goal to identify the genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors that eventually lead to the development of Alzheimer's disease in susceptible persons. This is an essential first step in research that could eventually delay the onset or even prevent Alzheimer's disease.


The WAI's collaboration with small rural communities and urban centers, the UWSMPH and the academic and research departments of the University have made the WAI a statewide presence embodied in the Wisconsin Idea of extending the benefits of UW-Madison to the borders of the state and beyond.



The Wisconsin Alzheimer's Institute is committed to creating a public health environment in which Alzheimer's disease and related dementias are widely recognized, well understood, aggressively and appropriately treated, and in which those who are afflicted and those who care for them receive the education, quality services and support they need to effectively cope with this devastating chronic disease.


As a center within the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, we will actively support the Wisconsin Idea and be recognized leaders in affecting change by initiating efforts and partnering with others to educate, research, advocate and develop service programs that have excellence, innovation and significant potential to improve current practice. We will act as a source of information, as a facilitator of collaboration and as a catalyst for efforts to substantially impact the quality of life for persons and families affected by Alzheimer's disease.


The Urgency of Our Mission

  • Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia.
  • 1 in 9 people age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s disease.
  • An estimated 5.2 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease in 2013.
  • 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and the fifth-leading cause of death for individuals age 65 and older.
  • More than 15.4 million people in the United States are caregivers for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia.  It’s estimated that 2.3 million of those caregivers live at least one hour away from the care recipient.
  • In 2012, Americans provided 17.5 billion hours of unpaid care to people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
  • Total payment for health care, long term care and hospice for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are project4ed to increase from $203 billion in 2013 to $1.2 trillion in 2050 (in 2013 dollars).  This includes a six-fold increase in government spending under Medicare and Medicaid and a five-fold increase in out-of-pocket spending.
  • African-Americans are more likely than Caucasians to have Alzheimer's disease.
  • The number of African-Americans entering the age of Alzheimer risk (age 65 or older) is expected to more than double to 6.9 million by 2030.

These are just a few of the facts from the Alzheimer's Association. Their new report, 2013 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures, is a comprehensive statistical abstract of U.S. data on Alzheimer's disease.

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