Major funding sets UK DRI on track for next phase of dementia discovery research
The UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI) was launched in 2017 with the single largest investment made in dementia research to date from founding funders the Medical Research Council, Alzheimer’s Research UK and Alzheimer’s Society. Now, the Institute’s contribution and determination through its first five years has been recognised by a panel of international experts and peers, which awarded it a score of excellent in its first major review. As a result, the Medical Research Council has committed £131m as part of a collective commitment with our other founding funders of £150 million for the next five years.
Since its inception, the UK DRI has made important progress towards tackling the immense and growing challenge of dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases. From investments and infrastructure to industry partnerships, the UK DRI has quickly established itself as a world leading institute, making crucial strides towards closing the knowledge gap in dementia. It has already become one of the most cited research institutes in the field.
I am immensely proud of everything we have achieved at the UK DRI over the past five years. We are delighted that this has been recognised in our recent institute-wide review and that we have been awarded five more years of funding, so we can continue to push on with our ambitious programme of research.
Prof Bart De Strooper, Director of the UK DRI
This new funding stands the UK DRI in great stead to continue to drive forward an ambitious agenda of research, building on its early successes. With recent breakthroughs in the field, including new drug lecanemab – reported to slow cognitive decline in people with early-stage Alzheimer’s – now is an exciting time in dementia research. As progress begins to accelerate, the Institute is poised to uphold its critical role at the forefront of discovery research in dementia, which will underpin future advances in treatment, care, and prevention.
“I am immensely proud of everything we have achieved at the UK DRI over the past five years. We are delighted that this has been recognised in our recent institute-wide review and that we have been awarded five more years of funding, so we can continue to push on with our ambitious programme of research.
Scientific advancements in the field are gathering pace and there is real hope that effective treatments are on the horizon. Our community of over 800 top-class researchers working right across the spectrum of neurodegenerative diseases are making important contributions to dementia research, making the Institute one of the most cited research institutes in the field.”
Prof John Iredale, Executive Chair of the Medical Research Council, said:
“We’d like to thank the external review panel for their time and support. I welcome their commendation of the impressive achievements of the UK DRI. We are immensely proud of the entire UK DRI community and their collaboration across the seven centres to advancing our detailed understanding of dementia and neurodegeneration and its translation.
With renewed investment of £150m that will build on the excellent progress over its first 5 years, UK DRI is in a wonderful position to marshal the internationally renowned research of the UK and its partners to help transform the research field and the lives of those living with dementia and other neurodegenerative conditions and those who care for them.
The MRC looks forward to celebrating future successes for UK DRI and supporting it as a key national asset to further the UK’s reputation as a leader in research and innovation.”
It’s hard to overstate how important the UK DRI is, not just to the wider UK research community, but in providing the answers that people living with the heartbreak of dementia need and deserve.
Dr Susan Kolhaas, Executive Director of Research and Partnerships at Alzheimer's Research UK
Fiona Carragher, Director of Research and Influencing at Alzheimer’s Society said:
“As a founding partner and funder of the UK DRI we are very proud of what the Institute has achieved since its launch in 2017. We congratulate everyone involved in placing it on the map as a global leader in dementia research and for the great impact it has had so far. This has included critical research into developing new diagnostic tools to ensure people living with dementia receive an early and accurate diagnosis, potentially giving them access to one of the disease-modifying treatments we hope to see emerging from the clinical trials pipeline in the coming years.
We are also passionate about the work of the Care Research and Technology centre which is revolutionising the way people living with dementia are cared for, to help them live better for longer today. So much has been accomplished by the UK DRI so far and we look forward to working with this vibrant community of researchers in the future.”
The Institute also plays a central role convening the dementia and neurodegeneration research ecosystem, joining top research institutes from Germany, France and Belgium to form the CURE-ND Alliance, and together with other leaders from the UK dementia community, forming the Dementia UK Ecosystem (DUKE) with the mission to work together to transform our understanding of dementia and how to tackle it. Through its Research Themes, the UK DRI is uniting experts across the institute, the country and the whole global research community, to foster collaboration in key areas of scientific inquiry.
Dr Susan Kohlhaas, Executive Director of Research and Partnerships at Alzheimer’s Research UK said:
“When you consider the UK Dementia Research Institute’s impressive achievements, it is easy to forget that it was established just five years ago. It is fantastic to see a critical mass of talented, passionate and hard-working scientists coming together to answer the most pressing questions in dementia research. It’s hard to overstate how important the UK DRI is, not just to the wider UK research community, but in providing the answers that people living with the heartbreak of dementia need and deserve.
The next five years will doubtless see the team at the UK DRI build on their incredible track record, making yet more fundamental discoveries that will get us closer to new treatments, diagnostic tools and preventative strategies for people living with neurodegenerative conditions like dementia. As a world-class research institute, the UK DRI is well placed to forge new collaborations and partnerships, both in the UK and internationally that will further accelerate global progress. At Alzheimer’s Research UK we’re proud to be a strategic partner and founding funder of the UK DRI and look forward to our continued partnership to deliver real progress for the field.”
But there is more to come: a brand new, soon-to-launch Transcriptomics Platform will expand the institute’s capabilities and provide researchers with access to specialist equipment to study gene expression at an unprecedented level of detail. New investments in ambitious, large-scale projects will include two Grand Challenges aiming to transform early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and develop new biomarkers for the disease. And a new programme of data science will capitalise on the Institute’s strengths in ‘omics, from animal models to human tissues, by harnessing the data generated from these cutting-edge techniques.