News story

New director and hub chosen for the UK’s new £250 million Dementia Research Institute

Professor De Strooper is to be the director of the UK Dementia Research Institute based at University College London.

  • University College London chosen to lead a UK-wide effort to treat, care for and prevent dementias
  • the institute will be led by Professor Bart De Strooper following a competitive international search
  • the UK Dementia Research Institute is a joint £250 million investment by government and leading Alzheimer’s charities

The UK’s ambition to stay of the forefront of global medical research took a step forward today (14 December 2016) with the announcement of the director and hub location for the new UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI).

Building on the UK’s world-renowned research expertise and excellence, Professor De Strooper will lead the UK DRI as it takes a cross-discipline approach to pioneer new treatments to tackle dementias - a group of neurodegenerative disorders which include Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s disease and vascular dementia.

A partnership between the government-funded Medical Research Council (MRC), the Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK, the hub of the new institute will be based at University College London (UCL), surrounded by some of the UK’s leading scientific institutions including the Francis Crick and the Alan Turing Institutes.

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said:

“Based in the heart of London’s knowledge quarter, this new Dementia Research Institute at UCL will be the centre of a UK-wide effort to develop new treatments that will improve the lives of millions both here in the UK and around the globe.

“This is another example of the UK’s world-class leadership in global science and research, and the core strengths we will build on through our upcoming Industrial Strategy.”

Professor De Strooper – who is currently leader of the Laboratory for the Research of Neurodegenerative Diseases at the University of Leuven – beat strong global competition and brings a wealth of experience to role. People living with dementia and carers formed part of the decision-making process, meeting with the final candidates and contributing their views on who should lead this vital institution.

Speaking of his appointment, Professor Bart De Strooper said:

“I am delighted to have been chosen to lead on a world-leading initiative with as much potential as the UK DRI. The research landscape in the UK is brimming with talent and opportunity and, thanks to the NHS, research is closely allied to patients.”

The UK DRI will be a multi-centred national institute with the central hub at UCL supported by several connecting regional centres across the UK.

UCL President and Provost Professor Michael Arthur said:

UCL can lay claim to world-leading expertise across the spectrum of dementia research, from genetics to evidence based treatments and support for patients and carers. We have both the ambition and ability to make a difference and meet the challenge of this most pressing of global public health problems.

Our vision for a DRI is a truly national asset that facilitates exchanges of ideas, people and resources between groups, disciplines and centres. A UCL DRI Hub will enable and support all DRI centres to deliver on the Prime Minister’s dementia challenge 2020 and internationally on the G7 Dementia Summit Declaration.

Chief Executive of the MRC Professor Sir John Savill said:

Dementias research is a very high priority at the MRC and the new Institute will place the UK at the centre of a global ambition to overcome these diseases. We are thrilled to have attracted such an outstanding scientist as Professor De Strooper and look forward to seeing his ambitious vision bringing together the best science across the UK and internationally to move the frontier of knowledge in dementias research.

Further announcements on the nationwide centres are expected in Spring 2017, with further recruitment of DRI scientists taking place throughout 2017.