Healthy Living

Bill Gates Determined to Find a Cure for Alzheimer's

Bill Gates Determined to Find a Cure for Alzheimer's

According to CNN, "Every 66 seconds, someone in the United States develops dementia, its most common form: Alzheimer's." Alzheimer's disease is a growing burden in the United States, as it affects more than 5 million Americans, with the average cost of care for Alzheimer's being close to $259 billion dollars a year. Because of limited treatment options and no cure, these numbers are only expected to increase. CNN also projected this number to be "16 million Americans [...] at a cost of $1 trillion a year, by 2050."

For now, as many know, the treatment options only slow down the symptoms of the disease. Though there have been numerous trials since 2002 that have looked into how the disease works and unfolds, not much has come out of them.

Bill Gates, well-known as the founder of Microsoft and as a philanthropist, sat down with CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta to discuss his newest mission: Joining the fight to find a cure for the disease that affects millions of Americans. He is donating $50 million of his own money to the Dementia Discovery Fund, which is one of the major foundations that is actively finding a cure of Alzheimer's  disease.

While his foundation has donated to stop the spread of diseases, such as HIV, malaria and polio which affect poor communities, he has never donated his own money to a noncommunicable disease.

Gates calls this a "personal investment" (USA Today), as many in his family, particularly the men, are affected by Alzheimer's. However, he also explains to CNN that his experience with the disease is not his "sole motivation." He explained, "I'm a huge believer in that science and innovation are going to solve most of the tough problems over time."

He not only went to CNN to explain his intentions, but also wrote about it in his blog. Gates has gone to several researchers and experts about the disease over the past year in order to understand it further and see the best way to move the treatment for the disease itself, rather than just finding treatment that would slow down the symptoms.

As the disease has affected his family, Gates is well-aware of the financial and emotional burdens that come along with it. In his blog he wrote, "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 feel a lot like you're experience a gradual death of the person that you knew" (USA Today).

Gates hopes to help five areas for Alzheimer's research: "Understanding better how Alzheimer's unfolds, detecting and diagnosing it earlier, pursuing multiple approaches to trying to halt the disease, making it easier for people to take part in clinical trials of potential new medicines, and using data better" (Reuters).

Not only is Bill Gates donating $50 million of his own money to Alzheimer's research, he also plans to donate an additional $50 million from his planned start-ups. 

The Dementia Discovery Fund is not like many others who are fighting for a cure for dementia. The organization is a collaboration that supports innovative approaches to find treatments of dementia that wouldn't normally be funded by other organizations of its kind. With his donation, Gates plans to fund more of these innovative studies that look into dementia and Alzheimer's a lot further.

Photo: Founder of Microsoft and Philanthropist Bill Gates.  Source: