The Lauder family has pledged $200 million to the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, founded after their mother, Estée Lauder, came down with the disease.
Alzheimer’s runs in the Lauder family, as it does in many families. Over 50 million people worldwide have the disease, which breaks down a person’s cognitive abilities. We don’t yet know exactly what causes it, but a theory is the protein amyloid.
“The need to invest in research is paramount,” said Heather Snyder, a vice president of the Alzheimer’s Association. “Investing in research is how we’re going to understand the underlying biology and translate that to treatment and interventions that will benefit all individuals.”
Estée Lauder founded the Lauder family foundation for the disease after her own diagnosis, with an initial $100 million investment in 1998. Her sons directed that money to invest in potential treatments. They call it ‘venture philanthropy,’ meaning that any returns on the investments is put directly back towards future resource.
Now the sons and grandchildren of the Lauder family have pledged to pour $200 million more into the ADDF, over the next ten to fifteen years.
“Our idea is to take our funding, put it into these translational science, kind of in this valley of death where you’ve got good ideas, but they’re very risky,” said Mark Roithmayr, the CEO of ADDF.
“They have collectively made this family gift to see through the work of the next 10 to 15 years to finish off what Estée started,” he said.
The Lauder family hopes that their donation and the grants it funds will accelerate the timeline for understanding Alzheimer’s, and therefore the timeline for a successful cure or treatment.
Right now, there are two drugs on the market which target the buildup of amyloid, the current suspect for the cause of Alzheimer’s. Legembi, which was approved in January, is the first to show an unambiguous slowing of the decline in memory and thinking.
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