Pratchett donates $1 million to Alzheimer's research

Bestselling author Terry Pratchett has donated $1,000,000 to fund Alzheimer's research. Pratchett announced that he had a rare form of early-onset Alzheimer's last December, and he's since discovered that there's an enormous gap in the science of Alzheimer's, noting, "I'd eat the arse out of a dead mole if it offered a fighting chance."
“I am, along with many others, scrabbling to stay ahead long enough to be there when the Cure comes along. Say it will be soon – there's nearly as many of us as there are cancer sufferers, and it looks as if the number of people with dementia will double within a generation. In most cases, alongside the sufferer you will find a spouse suffering as much. It is a shock to find out that funding for Alzheimer’s research is just 3% of that to find cancer cures.”

Mr Pratchett’s donation is in recognition of the urgent need to provide funding for research into the disease, which affects an estimated 700,000 people in the UK. For every person with Alzheimer's, £11 is spent each year on UK research compared with £289 for each cancer patient, even though similar numbers of people are affected.

Link (Thanks, Irene!)

(Image: Pratchett Himself, a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike photo from Myrmi's Flickr stream)

See also: Terry Pratchett has rare, early-onset Alzheimer's



  1. Fortunately for Pratt, I’m doing a highly scientific and valid scientific study right now to see if eating molasses (think ‘mole asses’) is a useful treatment for his particular type of Parkinson’s. I figure I’m only $1,000,000 away from the cure! Do you have his phone number?

  2. The links posted by SEXYROBOT @1 describe a detailed examination of a single patient over a very brief (several hour) time-scale after being treated with an antagonist to TNF-alpha (a protein implicated in Alzheimer’s) via injection into the spinal fluid.

    The results are impressive, and the study itself (linked from one of the articles) is a model of clarity. The authors also have data going back several years on a larger population. They noted informally that patient response seemed to occur very rapidly, and performed this study to test their informal observations.

    Hopeful stuff.

  3. Donating money for research may not be the best use of your money, Terry. Truth is the monies are used to develop pharmaceuticals that produce side effects worse than the dementia disease, Alzheimers. Money would be best spent studying the non-invasive ways to prevent, deter or slow down the disease.I am dedicated to doing that study and lobbying for insurance companies to pay for the treatment by offering brain fitness to all covered persons. You can rewire your brain, but this has only been clinically proven to work on early stages of the disease, like yours. Please consider contacting me for any information about brain fitness programs. I have done the research and my company is seeking funding for awareness and education of this horrible disease. Best to you.

  4. My thoughts:

    Research in any number of fields has slowed to a crawl. Hard to measure, given one must imagine what would be had the present condition not grown, but perhaps some causes can be identified.

    – The conversion of the science community in the U.S. to a profit-based research model, with universities converted into patent farms. Unlike the model I grew up with, pure research, focus is on finding patentable, profitable knowledge. Knowledge is being hoarded and metered out. The collaborative nature of science is being snuffed under a money-stuffed pillow.

    – Science funding, in the US at least, adjusted for inflation is shrinking when it should be expanding. And too much of it is micromanaged using the corporate model — results on a timely basis or the grant dies. Wild, speculative notions are not encouraged, So serendipitous discoveries are rarer.

    -TOO MUCH SCIENCE is depending on charitable donations. Telethons, expensive advertising campaigns that give too much to ad firms — this is not how to cure diseases. Science should not have to market itself as a beggar.

    -Market-driven science, as an ideology, is not as productive as the open publishing, liberally government-funded predecessor. We are dying in our millions through curable sicknesses for a market ideology.

  5. i read a recent study that medicinal mariuana can help stop the formation of cerebral plaques that are much of the cause of alzheimer’s. also certain narcotics, like oxycodone, and codiene, also have shown promise in treatment. remember that the brain functions best when it is utilized, i.e., figguring out puzzles, reading, writing, taking a cc class, exercizing, and diet are all incredibly important. best of luck with this horrible, debilitating disease.

  6. #10: The impression I get is that there is still substantial funding within the US coming from the government for the purposes of research which can have direct health benefits to its citizenry. Similarly, in Europe, Japan and quite a few other places there is substantial funding. (I think this is especially so for countries with nationalised health care systems.)

    Granted, big pharma probably spend a hell of a lot more on commercially viable research, but I’m not sure there was ever a time when science was purely nationally funded. (Well, at least not in a capitalist country…) Short of a communist revolution, I don’t see that changing, either.

    As for universities==patent farms, I think this depends on the university. Certainly there are universities which decree that all patentable research must be patented. On the other hand, there are universities which produce and encourage the use of FOSS licenses.

    Science depending on charity and advertising campaigns? Could you cite some examples? I am certainly aware of certain large chunks of money donated by the mega-rich to fund research, but I’m not sure that falls under the kind of charity you’re describing. I can’t really recall seeing an appeal to the general public for donations to conduct research.

    As for open access to research, there are big strides in that direction already. (eg: Public Library of Science and Biomed Central)

    As a scientist-in-training, I certainly would love for science to be a communally funded, communally beneficial thing. I just don’t think our current global political system can handle that. The solution lies elsewhere, but I’m not sure where.

    (I also haven’t even gotten started on “neglected tropical diseases.”)

  7. So what if a country like the US or the UK cut some of that military and anti-terrorist funding and redirected it into medical research? Cancer, HIV, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, these names should be 1, 2, and 3 on the Terror Watch List. The US spent $893 million fighting drugs in Colombia (maybe we should have just sold those drugs)in 2002.
    The US spent $696 BILLION last year on military funding.
    In 2007 the US spent more than 50% of it’s budget on “Defense”, while just over 5% each was spent on Health Care and Education.

  8. #13 what?!? with nearly a million terrorists already in this country? that’s just crazy talk.

  9. #13: Sure, that would be great.

    Unfortunately, the US economy depends on military spending.

    The good news is that it’s going down the tubes despite the enormous spending right now, so that’s a self-limiting process. Hopefully the countries who take their share of the global economy will have more responsible spending goals.

  10. Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld novels, has been diagnosed with a rare form of Alzheimer’s. In response he has donated half a million pounds (approx $1 million) to Alzheimer’s research and appeared on TV highlighting the low levels of research funding it receives. His readers and Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans from around the world are helping to match Terry’s donation. Buy the t-shirt and all the profits (roughly $10) will go to Alzheimer’s Research or donate directly.

  11. BrainFitnessLady, the reason the Alzheimer’s drugs are so nasty is that so far, that’s all they have, and people are so desperate that they’re willing to take them.

    Hazy formulations like “brain fitness” don’t have a lot of appeal when you’re looking at near-future dementia.

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