Press release

Charities’ historic pledge sees funding for landmark Dementia Research Institute soar to £250 million

A quarter of a billion pounds has been pledged towards the UK’s first ever Dementia Research Institute.

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  • £100 million from Britain’s leading charities takes support for the UK’s first ever Dementia Research Institute up to £250 million
  • Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK will each give £50 million to the Institute – one of the biggest commitments ever made by the charities
  • landmark pledge a crucial step forward for Institute and government’s long-term strategy to combat dementia - which already includes over £300 million for UK research and a global fund for international innovation

A quarter of a billion pounds has been pledged towards the UK’s first ever Dementia Research Institute (DRI), as 2 major UK charities announced £100 million of new investment today (1 May 2016).

Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK have today both pledged £50 million each towards the work of the Institute, led by the Medical Research Council (MRC), in one of the single biggest financial commitments to dementia research in the history of both charities.

Announced by the Prime Minister in his Challenge on Dementia 2020 last year, the Institute has been backed by £150 million of government investment. It will bring together scientists and experts from across the globe to transform the landscape of dementia research and firmly secure the UK’s reputation as a world leader in research and development against these devastating diseases.

Set to be fully up and running by 2020, the Institute will have a central UK hub with a network of regional centres and is expected to engage hundreds of scientists. It will focus on the innovative, discovery science needed to unlock our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the development and progression of the dementias. This research will help to drive new approaches to diagnosis, treatment, care provision and ultimately prevention of the disease

The involvement of the country’s 2 leading dementia charities will be essential in drawing together the work of scientists and medical professionals with experience of people living with dementia across the country, helping to create the link between research findings and delivering real changes for the treatment, care and prevention of dementia.

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said:

This government has been crystal clear that we want Britain to lead the way in tackling this terrible condition, and scientific research and understanding is crucial to this.

This Institute, with unprecedented funding from government and leading charities, presents a unique opportunity to pull together the UK’s world leading scientists and cutting edge research tools to get on with the job of defeating this disease for good.

Sir John Savill, Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council said:

I’m grateful to Alzheimer’s Society for leadership in supporting an impactful and comprehensive research mission for the Institute and to Alzheimer’s Research UK for committing funds to the DRI that are additional to ground-breaking investments in Drug Discovery Institutes, which are well positioned to ensure translation of DRI discoveries into therapies.

The MRC is delighted to welcome both charities as co-founders of a partnership that we hope may attract further members in time. Together, we will lead the UK’s dementia research efforts, to search for new means to prevent and cure dementia and to transform the supportive care that people and families affected by established dementia receive. The UK Dementia Research Institute will be the research cornerstone in the fight against dementia.

Jeremy Hughes CBE, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Society said:

The UK Dementia Research Institute heralds an exciting era for global dementia research as it launches an unprecedented collaboration of world-leading dementia expertise and provides the largest single investment in dementia research to date.

Alzheimer’s Society is working to create a better world for those living with dementia and their families, and this significant investment emphasises how important research is in achieving our ambitions. Today we offer people affected by dementia, and all of us, hope for a better future in much the same way that cancer research has transformed how we diagnose, treat and care for those living with cancer.

Hilary Evans Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK said:

Alzheimer’s Research UK’s £50 million commitment to the UK Dementia Research Institute as a founding partner adds major impetus in our drive to deliver new dementia treatments. As the largest joint effort in dementia research the UK has ever seen, this commitment sends a strong signal that we are serious about taking the fight to the condition.

Through world-leading research we can transform the lives of people with dementia, and our investment will help accelerate progress, as well as uniting the brightest scientific minds to focus on this great medical challenge. Alzheimer’s Research UK’s existing strategic initiatives, such as our Drug Discovery Alliance, will ensure promising breakthroughs made at the Institute are fed directly into the development of much-needed new treatments. The Institute, the power of the partnership around it and the potential it holds to transform UK research mark the next major step in our journey towards defeating dementia.

The Medical Research Council is also today launching its search for an outstanding scientist to lead the Institute in the role of Director - expected to be an expert in the field and responsible for driving forward the world class research of the Institute.

Notes to Editors:

  1. In addition to the institute, in March last year (2015) Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt unveiled the first ever $100 million global Dementia Discovery Fund with the aim to identify a cure or a disease modifying therapy for dementia by 2025.
  2. There are an estimated 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK – a figure that may double over the next 20 years.
  3. Dementia costs the NHS, local authorities and families in excess of £26 billion each year but there are currently no treatments available that can stop or reverse the disease process. This is primarily because of our limited understanding of how dementia develops or progresses. The brain is a highly complex organ and it is difficult to unpick the different biological processes that are involved in the deterioration of nerve cells.
  4. The new Director will be charged with connecting existing capabilities within the UK research landscape and engaging emerging research opportunities. They will also lead in forging effective relationships throughout the scientific and health communities to drive and shape the creation of a truly remarkable research facility and empower the scientists within it.
  5. The Medical Research Council has a case study who is available for broadcast interviews today, please call their press office on 020 7395 2345 (Out of Hours: 07818 428 297) for more information.
  6. Representatives from Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK will also be available for interview. Please Call the Medical Research Council press office on 020 7395 2345 (Out of Hours: 07818 428 297) for more information.
Published 1 May 2016