In late 2004, three families—the McCances, the Morbys and the Rappaports—came together to inject new life into finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
They were all frustrated with the pace of research. The drug pipeline was coming up dry. Research funding was risk averse and slow to respond to new discoveries. Even the most prominent Alzheimer’s scientists were spending a third of their time filling out lengthy grant applications. Meanwhile, both the prevalence and costs of Alzheimer’s were skyrocketing. Already, the disease afflicts 5.4 million Americans and costs $200 billion each year in the United States alone. Those figures will nearly triple by 2050.
Leveraging their experience in venture capital and corporate start-ups, Henry McCance, Phyllis Rappaport, and Jacqui and Jeff Morby built a new venture-based Alzheimer’s research fund designed to dramatically accelerate research, make bold bets and focus deeply on finding a cure. Officially named the Alzheimer's Disease Research Foundation, the fund now goes by its doing-business-as name, Cure Alzheimer's Fund.
In just nine years, with just $22.8 million spent, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund has an unparalleled track record. Our Alzheimer’s Genome Project™ (AGP) was the largest single disease scan of all time and was considered one of the top ten medical breakthroughs in the world in 2008 by Time and CNN. Our funded research work has also been noted by The Wall Street Journal, NPR and the White House. And one of our star researchers, Steve Wagner from the University of California, San Diego, has just been chosen for a pilot project for the prestigious new “Blueprint” drug discovery program at the National Institutes of Health.
Cure Alzheimer’s Fund focuses the best scientific minds in the industry. We do so scrupulously, and without any financial gain for our founders, donors or researchers. And since our founders cover all administrative costs, every dollar donated is guaranteed to go straight to funding new research.
The goal of CAF is to stop the disease before it even strikes, with early prediction and prevention. Discovered more than 100 years ago, Alzheimer’s is a genetic disease. But up until 2005, researchers only had discovered four genes associated with the disease, which accounted for just 30 percent of the inherited risk. Since 2005, CAF has discovered 120 other genes that are linked with Alzheimer’s and make up the other 70 percent of those at risk. But more importantly, identifying these genes is the first step to understanding the cause of the disease before a cure can be found. Research is the only path to progress.
For the past nine years, CAF has focused some of the best scientific minds in the industry on fighting this disease. Our researchers are focused on cutting-edge work that is making progress in the search for a cure. They are tackling the biggest issues in Alzheimer’s disease at renowned institutions across the United States and abroad.
Despite our VC roots, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund is a non-profit organization. We embrace the VC strategy solely to find a cure for Alzheimer’s, not to create financial gain for our founders, investors or researchers. It’s a bold move, but we don’t see any other choice.
Join us in our quest for a cure and be confident that every penny of your donation will make a difference in the lives of people everywhere—maybe even yours.