Blog post by Bill Gates: “My family loves to do jigsaw puzzles. It’s one of our favorite activities to do together, especially when we’re on vacation. There is something so satisfying about everyone working as a team to put down piece after piece until finally the whole thing is done.
In a lot of ways, the fight against Alzheimer’s disease reminds me of doing a puzzle. Your goal is to see the whole picture, so that you can understand the disease well enough to better diagnose and treat it. But in order to see the complete picture, you need to figure out how all of the pieces fit together.
Right now, all over the world, researchers are collecting data about Alzheimer’s disease. Some of these scientists are working on drug trials aimed at finding a way to stop the disease’s progression. Others are studying how our brain works, or how it changes as we age. In each case, they’re learning new things about the disease.
But until recently, Alzheimer’s researchers often had to jump through a lot of hoops to share their data—to see if and how the puzzle pieces fit together. There are a few reasons for this. For one thing, there is a lot of confusion about what information you can and can’t share because of patient privacy. Often there weren’t easily available tools and technologies to facilitate broad data-sharing and access. In addition, pharmaceutical companies invest a lot of money into clinical trials, and often they aren’t eager for their competitors to benefit from that investment, especially when the programs are still ongoing.
Unfortunately, this siloed approach to research data hasn’t yielded great results. We have only made incremental progress in therapeutics since the late 1990s. There’s a lot that we still don’t know about Alzheimer’s, including what part of the brain breaks down first and how or when you should intervene. But I’m hopeful that will change soon thanks in part to the Alzheimer’s Disease Data Initiative, or ADDI….(More)“.