WASHINGTON, March 12 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama reflected on the life of Nancy Reagan in his weekly address, crediting her for changing the role of the first lady and praising her dedication to Alzheimer's and stem cell research.
The president began his address by detailing her life prior to becoming the first lady of President Ronald Reagan. He dedicated the rest of the address to recognizing her for support of her husband, both during his time as president and when he struggled with Alzheimer's later in his life.
"Nancy Reagan redefined the role of first lady of the United States," Obama said. "In addition to serving as a trusted advisor to her husband, and an elegant hostess for our nation, she was a passionate advocate for issues that touched the lives of so many."
He noted her support for America's veterans and her attempts to raise awareness for drug and alcohol abuse, as well as her own battle with breast cancer and how she used her experience to encourage others to get mammograms.
Obama also credited the former first lady with building the foundation for many modern advances in Alzheimer's research and said he was proud to have her be one of hist first calls after signing a federal order to resume stem cell research.
"Nobody understood better than Nancy Reagan the importance of pursuing treatments that hold the potential and the promise to improve and save lives," he said.
The president ended his address by expressing his optimism for Alzheimer's programs such as the Precision Medicine Initiative and the BRAIN initiative.
"Thanks to the tireless efforts of people like Nancy Reagan, I've never been more optimistic that we are getting closer to the day when every single patient can get the care they need and deserve," he said. "I've never been more optimistic that we will one day find a cure for devastating diseases like Alzheimer's. And I can think of no better way to honor our former First Lady's legacy than by working together, as one nation, toward that goal."