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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 is the only cause of death among the top 10 in America that CANNOT BE PREVENTED, CURED OR EVEN SLOWED.

  • 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
  • Women are at the epicenter of the Alzheimer's crisis. A woman's estimated lifetime risk of developing Alzheimer's at age 65 is 1 in 6.
  • Older African-Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s and other dementias and Hispanics, one and one-half times as likely to have Alzheimer’s and other dementias as older Caucasians.
  • Worldwide, nearly 44 million people are believed to be living with Alzheimer's disease or other dementias.
  • Every four seconds, a new case of dementia occurs somewhere in the world.
  • Alzheimer's disease is the most expensive condition in the nation. In 2014, the direct costs coupled with billions of hours of unpaid care to caregivers in the United States, totaled nearly $440 billion dollars. That is nearly six times the revenues of Target Corporation in 2014.
  • Alzheimer's disease health care costs are $200 billion annually. In contrast, Federal research expenditures annually are about $0.6 billion which is about .3% (one third of 1 percent). The NAAPA recommendation is to quadruple this number.
  • If we can prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease by 10 years the projected 15 million cases by 2050 would instead be just 2 million cases.

These are just a few of the facts from the Alzheimer's Association. Their new report, 2014 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures, is a comprehensive statistical abstract of U.S. data on Alzheimer's disease.

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