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“The time is now” – UCL neuroscientists launch Campaign in Asia

8 November 2016

“One day old age will come for you, and you will benefit from today’s research. I hope you will support UCL’s research - or it may be a calamity when you get old.”

These were the final words of Lady Gwen Kao at UCL’s Hong Kong Campaign launch, which focused on the university’s dementia research and prospects for effective treatments. As the wife and carer of the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Sir Charles Kao, known as the ‘Father of Fibre Optics’ and now afflicted by Alzheimer’s, Lady Kao is intimately aware of the devastation dementia can wreak. She joined Sir Charles, who completed his PhD at UCL in 1965, at the event to see him honoured by UCL President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur for his immense contributions to science.

The event was a highlight amongst a series of meetings and events in Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong to launch the Campaign in Asia, celebrate UCL’s success with alumni and raise the profile of UCL’s internationally leading dementia research.

The visits were joined by two of UCL’s leading neuroscientists, Nobel Laureate Professor John O’Keefe and Professor Nick Fox, who is leading the creation of the university’s new Dementia Research Institute. The two struck an optimistic note, with Professor Fox commenting that we are now at a “tipping point” in translating our knowledge of dementia into preventative treatments. Agreeing, Professor O’Keefe added: “The time is now – we have a lot of tools, and we understand a lot of processes.”

However he added a plea for greater support, noting that “the amount of money going into dementia research is infinitesimal compared to cancer research.”

Professor Nancy Ip of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, who collaborates with UCL neuroscientists, also joined the event, which brought together around 100 UCL alumni and supporters in Hong Kong.

A Campaign launch and alumni party was also held in Shanghai, where nearly 200 alumni and friends discussion UCL’s international vision with Dame Nicola Brewer, Vice-Provost (International), who also announced a new partnership between UCL and Peking University. The event also offered the opportunity for a more personal announcement – two Shanghai alumni who met at UCL as students and later married revealed that they were expecting twins.

The Asia Campaign launches ended in Beijing with an extravaganza for 350 people organised by the UCL Club of Beijing, which brought together traditional Chinese dancing and acrobatics, followed by salsa dancing – with which Professor Michael Arthur enthusiastically joined in.

See photos from the events on our flickr page, here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskGQZrx9 and here https://flic.kr/s/aHskKFphDc