Aside from trying to get Google+ on track and dealing with Penguin updates, Google’s Sergey Brin is working on a project that’s a little more personal to him, as well as those who suffer from Parkinson’s disease, a a degenerative disorder that attacks the central nervous system. The fight against Parkinson’s is personal to Brin because his family history, along with his DNA indicates he may contract the disease as he gets older.
According to Bloomberg.com, Brin discovered he was at risk for Parkinson’s in 2008, when the necessary genetic makeup that gives him a 50 percent chance of contracting the disease at some point in his life. While his assistance towards research on the disease began in 2005, the revelation that he may become a victim increased the amount of support:
So far Brin has donated $132 million, mostly through the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, to help create a DNA database of 7,000 patients and to support work on the first targeted treatments that aim at the genetic causes of the movement disorder. [Emphasis added]
Furthermore, Brin says if he could write a $1 billion check that would guaranteed a cure for Parkinson’s, it “would be the easiest one I have written.”
It’s not like Brin is just throwing money at the problem, hoping it will go away. A number of initiatives have popped up thanks to Brin’s immense contributions, including:
Among the recipients of Brin’s largess is the company his wife, Anne Wojcicki, started to create a database of genetic information and which found that Brin had the Parkinson’s gene.
Brin’s focus has been on medicine and treatments that slow the progress of Parkinson’s, if not block them completely. The Google co-founder’s commitment to Parkinson’s prevention even caught the eyes of some big-name pharmaceutical companies:
The advances are encouraging Pfizer Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline Plc to pursue a new class of medicines that may become the first to slow the progress of Parkinson’s disease in a unique collaboration that Brin is funding.
There have also been positive results, thanks to Brin’s assistance:
The data effort has started to yield results. Researchers at 23andMe last year said they had spotted a gene that may protect against the harmful effects of LRRK2, explaining why some people with the mutation never get the disease.
Considering the increasing amount of criticism Google has been receiving, Brin’s efforts should not be overlooked. His financial support and awareness efforts have yielded some incredibly positive results that may one day point to the cure for Parkinson’s disease.