Bill Gates has “dug deep” to join the fight against Alzheimer’s with a whopping $ 50 million investment in the Dementia Discovery Fund.
Known for his philanthropy, Gates says this time the generosity is personal — at least in part.
“It’s a terrible disease that devastates both those who have it and their loved ones,” Gates wrote Monday in his blog post.
In the essay titled “Why I’m Digging Deep Into Alzheimer’s,” the billionaire Microsoft co-founder added, “This is something I know a lot about, because men in my family have suffered from Alzheimer’s. I know how awful it is to watch people you love struggle as the disease robs them of their mental capacity, and there is nothing you can do about it. It feels a lot like you’re experiencing a gradual death of the person that you knew.”
Gates calls putting $ 50 million into the Dementia Discovery Fund “a first step.” He chose this route because of DDF’s innovative approaches to research. It’s a private fund, he notes, that is “working to diversify the clinical pipeline and identify new targets for treatment.”
Current figures show that more than 5.5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, which could rise to 16 million by 2050. It is currently the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.
Gates is cautiously optimistic that effective treatments could be a decade away.
“It’ll take probably 10 years before new theories are tried enough times to give them a high chance of success,” he told Reuters. “I hope that in the next 10 years that we have some powerful drugs, but it’s possible that won’t be achieved.”
In September, Gates identified Alzheimer’s as one of a number of health issues that will require serious attention over the next 10 years.
“The chronic diseases, including things like diabetes or Alzheimer’s, neurological conditions, they are increasingly what the big problem is,” he said.
In the new blog post, Gates wrote, “My family history isn’t the sole reason behind my interest in Alzheimer’s. But my personal experience has exposed me to how hopeless it feels when you or a loved one gets the disease.”