I’m thrilled by what we’ve achieved so far at the UK DRI, bringing together an unprecedented formula of bright minds, top tools and creative thinking. Our researchers are feeding the pipeline for new dementia treatments, uncovering fundamental disease mechanisms and identifying promising drug targets through groundbreaking discovery research.
One day we will look back and think: that was the moment which triggered a real change. In 2017, the UK took a decisive step to address one of the greatest global health challenges we face today.
The UK Government established the UK DRI in 2017 with an unprecedented investment into tackling dementia, following the Prime Minister’s timely and ambitious “Challenge on Dementia 2020”. Founded by the Medical Research Council, Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK, the move couldn’t come soon enough for the 850,000 people in the UK living with the condition.
In a survey of over 200 UK DRI researchers, 90% said they think new treatments will be found in the next ten years.
And yet there is much ground to be made up. Research into dementia has historically been a low priority, despite it being the leading cause of death in the UK. Besides the devastating impact on individuals and families, the cost of dementia to the UK economy is £34.7 billion per year. This is set to nearly treble to £94 billion by 2040. No other condition costs as much.
1 in 3 people born this year will develop dementia in their lifetime
850k+ people have dementia in UK today – projected to increase to over 2 million by 2050
There are 4 cancer researchers for every 1 dementia researcher
Breakthroughs are urgently needed
The complexity and scale of the challenge we face demands an approach that draws on the very best minds, resources and expertise available. The UK DRI’s innovative structure – bringing together six top universities – is designed to foster the intensive collaboration and problem-solving that will propel the field forward.
Our partners in industry, academia, the NHS and the wider scientific community help us to focus on the questions that really matter and take full advantage of the latest tools and technology.
There is still much to do to dispel the myth that dementia is an inevitable part of ageing. We are steadfast in our belief that treatments can and will be found. However, we still need to find out what causes dementia and how it progresses, and this knowledge will be the key to transforming lives now and in the future.
We are hopeful that breakthroughs are on the horizon, and have ambitious plans to bring us ever closer to the treatments desperately needed by millions across the globe.