The locations of the centres that complete the UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI), whose hub of research activity and operational headquarters is based at UCL, have been named as the University of Cambridge, Cardiff University, the University of Edinburgh, Imperial College London and King’s College London.
The UK DRI is a joint £250 million investment into dementia research led by the Medical Research Council (MRC) alongside founding charity partners Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK. Established in response to the government’s 2020 Challenge on Dementia, the DRI’s mission is to find new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent and care for people with dementias, a group of neurodegenerative disorders which include Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease.
The selection of the UK DRI centres marks a significant investment for the institute, with total funding for the foundation programmes and resources awarded to the centres reaching £55 million, which the centres will supplement with over £20m worth of co-investment.
Bringing together world-leading expertise across the spectrum of dementia research, and maximising the benefit of cutting-edge facilities and skills, the newly announced centres join UCL, which was the first centre to be announced as the location of the DRI headquarters in December 2016, alongside the announcement of UK DRI Director, Professor Bart De Strooper (UCL Institute of Neurology).
Each application included an associate director and up to four programme leaders who together will lead the centre’s foundation programmes. The centres have been awarded a total of 20 professorships and seven fellowships in the foundation phase, to build momentum in the institute. The centres have a biomedical focus, and care research will also be integrated into the institute next year.
Professor De Strooper said: ‘The shared vision between the centres will be at the heart of the DRI’s success, and this creativity at the borders will lead us to truly understand dementias and how they progress. We selected the centres based on innovative, excellent science, evidence of strong leadership, the alignment of goals with the DRI as a whole, and the ability to grow and collaborate as the institute gathers pace.’
Minister†of State for†Universities,†Science, Research and Innovation Jo Johnson said: ’Dementia affects millions of people around the world, but through greater understanding we can make significant steps forward to improve lives. Today’s announcement of the Institute’s centre locations demonstrates the UK’s existing wealth of knowledge and research expertise, and the leadership role we can take in developing new treatments to tackle this disease. This is exactly the type of project our Industrial Strategy will build on to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of global science.’
Professor Alan Thompson, Dean of the UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences, said: ’We are delighted to welcome our partner institutions to the UK DRI, and look forward to collaborating with them, bringing together our complementary expertise to gain a deeper understanding of dementia and ultimately accelerate the development of effective treatments. UCL is committed to meeting the challenge of this most pressing of global public health problems, and we will work closely with our partners to maximise the transformative impact of the UK Dementia Research Institute under the leadership of its eminent Director Professor Bart De Strooper.’
- Brain scan showing dementia progression (credit: Nature )
Medical Research Council