Bill Gates to donate $50 million to fund advancing Alzheimer's research

Gates also told Reuters he intends to personally donate another $50 million for start-up ventures focused on the disease.
By Jessica Davis
11:29 AM
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Bill Gates Alzheimer’s research

Bill Gates. Credit: Twitter

Microsoft Founder Bill Gates will invest $50 million into the Dementia Discovery Fund, a venture capital collaboration of charity, industry and government groups focused on finding treatments for the disease.

Gates explained that he specifically chose the Dementia Discovery Fund, as the group explores “less mainstream approaches to treating dementia.”

The investment comes personally from Gates and not from his philanthropic Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. However, Gates told Reuters that it will be followed by another personal donation of $50 million to start-up ventures focused on Alzheimer’s research.

[Also: Neurotrack wins medical innovation challenge with Alzheimer's tech]

The donations are part of the Gates’ and Warren Buffet’s initiative, The Giving Pledge, which the couple started in 2010 to convince other billionaires to give away a majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes. The group has more than 150 signatories.

Humans have a nearly 50 percent chance of developing Alzheimer’s if they live into their 80s, and scientists have yet to find the cause of the disease, Gates wrote on his blog.

“I first became interested in Alzheimer’s because of its costs -- both emotional and economic -- to families and healthcare systems. The financial burden of the disease is much easier to quantify,” Gates wrote.

Gates has been working with researchers, academics, funders and industry leaders, which revealed five target areas to begin making better progress: understand how the disease unfolds; earlier detection and diagnosis; more approaches; make it easier to enroll in clinical trials; and better use of data.

“By improving in each of these areas, I think we can develop an intervention that drastically reduces the impact of Alzheimer’s,” Gates wrote. “There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about our chances: Our understanding of the brain and the disease is advancing a great deal.”

While the first Alzheimer’s treatments may not be available for another 10 or more years and may be expensive at first, Gates said that in the future, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will look into how to expand access into poor countries.

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
Email the writer: jessica.davis@himssmedia.com