Microsoft co-founder pledges $300m to brain research
The co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen, has promised to donate £300 million of his personal fortune into brain research.
He is planning to invest the money into the organisation he set up, the Allen Institute for Brain Science, over the next three years.
Allen has said the money will go towards understanding how the brain works, an investigation which will have three main research initiatives.
The project is expected to take 10 years to complete and the $300 million donation means Allen’s personal donations to the Institute now total $500 million.
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The three following questions will form the basis of the research:
- How does the brain store, encode and process information?
- What are the cellular building blocks that underlie all brain function, and are often targets of disease?
- How do those cells develop, and then create the circuits that drive behavior, thought and brain dysfunction?
To carry out such an in-depth investigation, there are plans to double the current employee compliment to 350 over the next four years, and hiring has already begun.
Alan has charged the Institute with tackling some of the most fundamental and complex questions in brain science today.
The answers to such questions are essential for achieving a complete understanding of how the brain works, what goes wrong in brain-related diseases and disorders, and how best to treat them.
Commenting on the donation, Allen said: “The accomplishments of the Institute have been truly remarkable.
“With its disciplined, mission-focused approach, the Institute has successfully tackled big-science projects, delivering tangible results that are helping to advance brain research around the world every day.”
“I am excited to expand the scale and scope of the Institute's efforts, and I look forward to seeing what we will accomplish in the future,” he added.
Meanwhile Allan Jones, CEO of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, said: “Paul Allen's generosity and bold vision have allowed us to build a unique organisation and advance brain research in ways that wouldn't be possible otherwise.
“This new funding enables us to apply our structured, industrial-scale approach to science to tackle increasingly complex questions about how the brain works—questions that must be answered if we are to understand and treat autism, Alzheimer's disease, depression, traumatic brain injury and the myriad other brain-related diseases and disorders that affect all of us either directly or indirectly.”
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Dexcom: changing the lives of people with type 1 diabetes
It is estimated that 9.3% of adults around the world are living with type 1 diabetes, which amounts to a total of 463 million people. A further 1.1 million children and adolescents under the age of 20 are living with the condition.
Unlike the more prevalent type 2 diabetes, where the body still produces insulin and symptoms develop slowly, people with type 1 diabetes need regular insulin injections or pumps, and must monitor their sugar levels frequently.
In recent years a number of remote glucose monitoring systems have become available that patients can use at home. These work with a sensor, usually placed under the skin, that measures glucose levels every few minutes. This information is then transmitted wirelessly to a device like a smartphone or tablet, which can then be shared with their clinician.
British actress Nina Wadia's son Aidan, 14, has type 1 diabetes, and has been managing his condition using Dexcom, a glucose monitoring system used by patients all over the world. Here Wadia explains how Dexcom has improved their lives.
As a parent of someone with type 1 diabetes, what is your day-to-day life like?
Being able to take a breath, think and pivot constantly without getting frustrated becomes an essential mindset because sometimes it feels like each day is determined to be different from the day before. Whatever worked yesterday is going to misfire today.
Which areas of yours and Aidan’s life are most impacted by diabetes?
The one thing that you have to fight hard to reclaim is spontaneity, especially when it comes to food and exercise. It’s only when this is taken do you realise how essential each one is. You can be flexible and there are no real limits, but only in the sense that a great athlete can be flexible without limits because they’ve trained super hard to be that way. So we’ve all had to become athletes when it comes to being spontaneous.
How has Dexcom helped you and Aidan?
Dexcom has brought future science fiction to real life today. The continuous glucose monitoring system is tiny, sits discreetly on his body and gives him a ten-day breather between sensor changes, so it's goodbye finger-pricking seven times daily.
Dexcom is totally active at a grass roots level and for Diabetes Awareness has pledged to donate £2,000 if #DexcomDiabetesStories and/or #DexcomWarriorStories is shared 200 times! I’ll be sharing more on social media and would love to hear how other families are winning their fights.
Maybe most importantly Dexcom is trying to introduce a reimbursement programme for type 1 diabetes patients which will give greater access to modern, life changing hi-tech. I want to spread the word on the importance of accessing it through this campaign.
If you compared your life today with how it was before Aidan was using Dexcom, what has changed?
It's always working, which lets him take his mind off diabetes for longer stretches. It also lets me get off his back. We both receive alerts so I no longer have to pester him by asking him what his number is, and especially importantly, I don’t have to wake him at night to prick his finger if I’m worried. Dexcom gave us back our sleep!