There has been a lot of excitement about the potential of a blood test for Alzheimer’s disease. But what if an even less invasive test could predict, diagnose, or track disease, and speed trial recruitment? With an influx of $15 million from donors, including Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos, a second round of grants from the Diagnostics Accelerator program of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation will support projects that seek new biomarkers. The idea is to harness personal data from wearable and virtual reality devices, apps, smart home systems, and other technological platforms to detect subtle indicators of decline—be they changes in cognition, speech, language, sleep, or other behaviors.

“I’m excited about a potential future where identifying your risk of developing Alzheimer’s is as simple as an app on your phone that you can instruct to listen for warning signs in your speech,” blogged Bill Gates. Gates and partners started the Diagnostics Accelerator program in 2018, with initial investments of more than $30 million (Jul 2018 news). 

Interested researchers working at academic medical centers, universities, nonprofits, and biotech companies are eligible to apply. Industry partnerships are encouraged. Letters of intent must be submitted by June 7; full proposals are due August 16. More info can be found on the Diagnostics Accelerator website.—Gwyneth Dickey Zakaib


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News Citations

  1. $30 Million Venture Philanthropy Project for AD Biomarkers

External Citations

  1. Bill Gates
  2. Diagnostics Accelerator

Further Reading


  1. . Development and validation of a salivary tau biomarker in Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimers Dement (Amst). 2019 Dec;11:53-60. Epub 2018 Apr 21 PubMed.
  2. . Aβ and tau structure-based biomarkers for a blood- and CSF-based two-step recruitment strategy to identify patients with dementia due to Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimers Dement (Amst). 2019 Dec;11:257-263. Epub 2019 Mar 12 PubMed.