UCL has beaten Oxford, Cambridge, and several other universities in its bid to host the UK’s national dementia research centre.
The research centre, which has a budget of £250m, will become the Medical Research Council’s (MRC) national base studying the disease that leads the highest number of deaths per year in England and Wales.
The University’s Provost, Michael Arthur, told Pi Media “We have a large amount of neuroscience research at UCL, it’s probably our most internationally famous and internationally successful set-up.”
Arthur went on to say that at UCL “we have a hugely successful setup.”
UCL’s neuroscience research has constantly been held up in high esteem within the scientific community. The university has about 450 investigators, of which half study neurodegenerative diseases including dementias.
UCL had been the favourite to win the MRC’s call to create a national dementia centre.
Professor Bart De Strooper, who will head up the dementia centre, said that, though the other contenders had strong scientific profiles, UCL had a “little bit more” with its neuroscience department.
Arthur told Pi Media that UCL had been “pushing forward [for something that] what we already have.”
The University started the academic year by being nominated “Charity of Year” by multiple supermarkets, including Iceland, ASDA, Boots, Waitrose, WH Smiths and Morrisons. Under a government programme, this means that part of the money made from every plastic is donated to UCL.
“This has so far led to formal pledges of about £16m for dementia,” the Provost stated, “and we’re anticipating it could grow to more than £20 million.”
About 800,000 people are affected by dementia this year in the UK. Experts believe it could rise to 1m by 2025 and 2m by 2050.
Arthur said “We’re trying to set up an integrated national plan because it’s my view that dementia is a very difficult nut to crack. The more science we throw at this, the more we think about this…then the more likely we are to be able to intervene, instead of waiting until the disease is apparent.”
Additional reporting by Isabella H. de Carvalho
Featured image: UCL