Joining the fight against Alzheimer's, Microsoft founder Bill Gates on Monday announced a $50 million Dementia Discovery Investment Fund from his personal wealth to find a cure for the brain-wasting disease.
Rather going through his usual philanthropic route, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates says this investment is a personal one. In a statement, Gates says men in his family have suffered from Alzheimer's.
"[Dementia] is a huge problem, a growing problem, and the scale of the tragedy - even for the people who stay alive - is very high", Mr. Gates told Reuters. Current drugs can do no more than ease some of the symptoms.
With well-funded innovation, however, Gates is "optimistic" that treatments can be discovered, even if it takes as long as ten years.
"I'm excited to join the fight and can't wait to see what happens next", Gates said.
"I know how terrible 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", Gates wrote.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, the disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. More than 5 million Americans live with Alzheimer's.
In addition to boosting research into the underlying causes of the disease, Gates identifies four other priority areas that need attention, including improving dementia diagnosis and participation in clinical trials, bringing new ideas and theories into the field, and using the power of big data to speed up research progress. He says the Gates Foundation might consider how to expand access in poorer countries when treatments are developed. This would make it easier for researchers to look for patterns and identify new pathways for treatment, he said.