According to a recent Reuters’ news report, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, is to make a $100 million personal investment in dementia research. Gates told the news agency that dementia is a “huge problem” that “is taking a growing emotional and financial toll as people live longer.”
He explained that his investment, which will not be associated with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will be divided equally between the venture capital fund, the Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF) and providing start-up capital for “ventures working in Alzheimer’s research.”
The DDF, founded in 2015 and made up of pharmaceutical giants like GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer, as well as the UK government, has already invested in at least 9 start-ups working on ways to “stop or reverse the biological process that lead to dementia.” Gates told Reuters that he has not yet identified the start-ups that he will make a $50 million investment in but says, that they will be those “working on “less mainstream” approaches to the disease.”
Although Gates described himself as being optimistic that treatments will be found over the next decade, he conceded “it’s possible that won’t be achieved.” He also admitted to being personally affected by Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, as “some of the men in [his] family have suffered from” the disease but said that it is not the “sole reason” for his significant private investment.
Apart from identifying “five areas of need,” including “understanding better how Alzheimer’s unfolds,” and “detecting and diagnosing [the disease] earlier,” Gates said that he would be willing to invest further to support the creation of “a global dementia data platform,” that “would make it easier for researchers to look for patterns and identify new pathways for treatment.” “My background at Microsoft and my (Gates) Foundation background say to me that a data-driven contribution might be an area where I can help add some value,” he said.