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Experts join £250m dementia initiative

Thursday 20th April 2017

Dementia researchers across the UK are joining forces to find new ways of tackling the condition.

The University of Edinburgh is to join five other institutions to form the UK Dementia Research Institute, a £250m initiative bringing together world-leading expertise and cutting-edge facilities.

The institute is a joint initiative to advance dementia research led by the Medical Research Council (MRC) with founding charity partners, Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Dementia is caused when brain cells called neurons fail to work properly and eventually die – a process that involves other types of brain cells that together far outnumber neurons.

By identifying how these other cell types behave in healthy brains – and studying how dementia affects them – the UK DRI Edinburgh team hopes to find new ways of preventing this deterioration happening.

"The UK DRI will enable us to join forces to accelerate research into neurodegenerative diseases leading to dementia. Our responsibility to dementia patients and their families, both current and future, is to use this opportunity to find new ways to prevent or slow progression of this devastating group of diseases." Professor Giles Hardingham, Associate Director, UK DRI at the University of Edinburgh

The UK DRI has been established in response to the Government’s 2020 Challenge on Dementia. Its mission is to find new ways of diagnosing and treating dementias – a group of neurodegenerative diseases which include Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases.

Researchers will identify strategies to help prevent dementia before symptoms appear. They will also investigate new approaches to improve care for people living with the conditions. 

"Dementia affects millions of people around the world, but through greater understanding we can make significant steps forward to improve lives." Jo Johnson, UK Science Minister

The institute is headquartered at University College London with additional centres at the Universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge, Cardiff University, Imperial College London and King’s College London.

"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." Professor Bart De Strooper, Director, UK DRI

Source: The University of Edinburgh