Bill Gates recently joined Maria Shriver on “TODAY” and revealed some heartbreaking news. The 62-year-old founder of Microsoft opened up on the segment his father Bill Gates Sr.’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.
“You had a father, I have a father who’s affected deeply by it. Only by solving problems like this can we take these medical costs and the human tragedy and really get those under control,” he told Shriver. The journalist and soon-to-be ex-wife of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s father Sargent Shriver died in 2011 after a long battle with the dementia-causing disease, reports Time Magazine.
Gates, who was named Forbes Magazine’s 2017 Richest Man in The World, is working to put his riches toward this extremely personal cause. Gates has invested $100 million of his $94 billion personal fortune into research into the condition, according to Time. He announced that half of the funds would be put directly toward the Dementia Discovery Fund.
In November, Gates spoke out about the struggle of watching loved ones suffer through Alzheimer’s, but without revealing just how close to home the illness hit.
“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,” he said on his personal blog, according to NBC News. “It feels a lot like you’re experiencing a gradual death of the person that you knew.”
Gates’ goal is to help find a cure or new treatments to eradicate the disease, even while acknowledging the possibility that, since it runs in his family, it could affect him too.
“One of the things we’re trying to figure out is, when does the Alzheimer’s really get started?” he said. “When would you need to treat somebody to completely avoid them getting Alzheimer’s?”
He added, “I’m an optimist. Bringing in new ideas, that’s what we’re going to have to do, to have great drugs for this in the next 10 to 15 years.”