The NFL Players Association is investing in Dementia Discovery Fund, the group that Bill Gates recently made a $100 million investment in.

Dementia Discovery Fund is a venture capital fund based in London and Boston and managed by SV Health. The DDF is focused on discovering and developing treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, in particular those that are associated with dementia.

A mission of the players’ union is to enhance research that can improve the long-term health and well-being of NFL players. The organization calls its initiatives “whole player, whole life,” looking not only into current health issues but those that will affect players later in life.

“This union has been vigilant about its commitment to the long-term health, safety and well-being of our players,” NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said. “For the same reason that we instituted rule changes, concussion protocols and pay for post career neurological benefits, our capital investment in this fund complements our current investment initiatives with the Harvard Football Players Health Study.

“I am proud of the work we do to protect our current and former members and aid the overall health of everyone suffering from neurological conditions.”

The union is not disclosing the amount it has invested at the request of the DDF until its fund closes.

Gates personally is investing $50 million in DDF, which was formed two years ago, and he will follow that with another $50 million in startup ventures working on Alzheimer’s research. But his interest in DDF, while coincidental in the timing of its announcement, is not tied in with the union’s move.

“We believe the DDF’s novel model presents a real opportunity to improve the treatment of neurological diseases, and, importantly for us, provide valuable insights into neurodegenerative disorders which have been associated with our sport,” said Ahmad Nassar, president of NFL Players, Inc., the union’s marketing arm.

“Our investment fits with our strategy of supporting research into new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent common injuries in current and retired NFL players, which has included previously supporting projects to slow and reverse the accumulation of Tau protein in the brain, which leads to CTE.”

The DDF was established through the collaboration of leading pharmaceutical companies, the United Kingdom Department of Health, and the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK). It has an initial portfolio of 12 investments in drug discovery companies and projects predominantly in the United Kingdom and United States.


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