Billionaire Bill Gates and Estée Lauder Cos chairman emeritus Leonard Lauder last week said they will award $30 million over three years to encourage development of new tests for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease.   For Microsoft co-founder Gates, launch of the Diagnostics Accelerator program follows an announcement in November of a personal investment of $50 million in the Dementia Discovery Fund, a venture capital fund aimed at bringing together industry and government to seek treatments for the brain-wasting disease.

The effort, Gates said, was fueled in part by his personal experience with family members struggling with Alzheimer’s.  Gates and Lauder will provide seed money for the diagnostics collaboration through the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF), which was founded by Lauder. They will be joined by other philanthropists, including the Dolby family and the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation.

Funding provided through the initiative will be open to scientists and clinicians globally working in academic settings, charities and biotechnology companies.  As a philanthropy vehicle, the ADDF Diagnostics Accelerator venture will invest in riskier projects that may not have immediate commercial return, the group said in a statement.

The goal, Gates says in a Gates Notes blog post, is to push developments of a “real product for real patients ” by the medical community. The project will solicit and then fund the most promising ideas for developing a test for Alzheimer’s, whether that be in the form of a blood test, a retinal eye scan, a urine or saliva test or even some other innovative way of detecting the signs of the disease. “Imagine a world where diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease is as simple as getting your blood tested during your annual physical,” Gates writes, noting that current methods, including the scans and tests of spinal fluid, can be both invasive and expensive (and many are not covered by insurance).

Bill Gates Announces Further Investment In Alzheimer’s Research, Taking On Disease Detection

About Jerry

Jerold E. Rothkoff, a practicing New Jersey and Pennsylvania attorney, is the Principal of the Rothkoff Law Group, an elder care law firm. Jerry dedicates his practice to serving clients in the areas of life care planning, long-term care planning, Medicaid & VA benefits, and advocacy for the elderly and disabled. He is past President of the NJ Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, former chair of the elder law section of the NJ State Bar Association, and past President of the Life Care Planning Law Firm Association. Jerry continues to be an outspoken advocate for the rights of the elderly and disabled. He writes for and gives presentations regularly to attorneys and other professionals about legal issues related to seniors and those with disabilities. Jerry’s community activities include the Twilight Wish Foundation, the Delaware Valley Stroke Council, the Alzheimer’s Association, as well as numerous other advocacy groups. When not in the office, Jerry spends time with his wife, Erica, and their five children, eighteen-year old identical twin girls, Liza and Julia, fifteen-year old fraternal twin boys, Evan and Gregory, and six-year old Aitan.

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