Former U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson

ATLANTA – Former U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson launched a nonprofit organization Wednesday to raise awareness and funding for neurocognitive diseases including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and related dementia.

Isakson, R-Ga., announced his diagnosis with Parkinson’s in 2015 and retired from Congress at the end of 2019, midway through his third term in the Senate.

“Upon my retirement, I have rededicated my life to serving the people of Georgia and the United States by doing everything within my power to help those who are working toward a cure for Parkinson’s and other related neurocognitive issues,” Isakson said in a prepared statement.

“If our great nation continues to invest in public-private partnerships around biomedical research, we can improve and save the lives of millions of people. What a noble calling.”

Isakson was a leading advocate for public-private research initiatives throughout his career in real estate in Cobb County and later as a state legislator and member of Congress.

As chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, he became a renowned health-care policy leader through his role in passing the most comprehensive veterans reform legislation in half a century.

The law, signed by then-President Donald Trump in 2018, consolidated VA community care programs, allowing veterans to receive health care from private-sector doctors and hospitals. It also expanded VA benefits to veterans of all eras and set up a process to evaluate and reform VA facilities.

Before being elected to the Senate in 2004, Isakson served for five years in the U.S. House of Representatives, succeeding former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in a congressional district in Atlanta’s northern suburbs.

The University of Georgia’s campaign to create the John H. “Johnny” Isakson Chair for Parkinson’s Research and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar position reached its goal of $4.5 million in private commitments earlier this year.

The Isakson Initiative has scheduled two fundraisers this fall, a golf tournament and a tribute to Isakson.