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Henry McCance brings venture capital savvy to funding Alzheimer’s research

In 1999, when Henry McCance’s wife, Allison, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, McCance set out to learn all he could about the disease even as he put his wife in the hands of the nation's best doctors. But instead of real answers, McCance got the same frustrating advice from every doctor. "They said, you might try three Advil a day,” says the former head of Greylock Partners and current part-owner of the Boston Red Sox. He also discovered that while 40% of people are liable to develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s by age 85, the research effort seriously lags those for HIV/AIDS, cancer or heart disease.

That wouldn’t do for someone Forbes magazine once labeled one of the nation’s Top 10 venture capitalists. So, McCance and fellow VC stars Phyllis Rappaport and Jacqui and Jeff Morby decided to apply their collective business savvy toward a different path for a cure. They collaborated to build a new strategy based on a venture capital model to accelerate Alzheimer’s research and focus 100 percent on finding a cure. Thus was born Cure Alzheimer’s Fund (CAF). In addition to CAF, McCance tapped the skills and passions of his two daughters to set up the McCance Family Foundation.

What drives his philanthropic ambition? “Maybe this comes from my father and his values,” he responds. “Toys like big boats just don't appeal to me. I'd rather try and make our world a better place.”

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