UCL launches CelebrAGE to promote ageing research
19 May 2020
A network to drive innovation and knowledge sharing on ageing research
UCL launches CelebrAGE, led by Dr Mine Orlu from the UCL School of Pharmacy, a network to drive innovation and knowledge sharing on ageing research and contribute to accelerating the impact of the findings at UCL by working with leading global institutions and business partners. This coincides with the Government’s mission, called the Ageing Society Grand Challenge, which by 2035 strives for people to enjoy five more years of healthy, independent living.
Dr Orlu has recently been awarded an Innovation Network grant by UCL Innovation & Enterprise via the EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account. The work will be centred on the solutions-focused CelebrAGE programme which aims to celebrate ageing by exploring and repurposing existing technologies that enable the population to enjoy a healthier and more independent old age.
Four key stakeholders would form the members of the CelebrAGE innovation network: UCL academics, public and private sector companies, NHS colleagues - and local and national charities.
Key areas of focus for CelebrAGE will be to:
- Empower individuals for self-management of their health
- Maintain independence (the ability to complete daily living tasks)
- Minimise complex care needs
- Use fewer health and social care services
- Reduce the number of hospital visits and stays
CelebrAGE has started to stimulate cross-disciplinary communication about ageing research across UCL Divisions, in particular UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering and School of Pharmacy.
Dr Mine Orlu commented, “CelebrAGE will provide an umbrella, beneath which all UCL ageing research activities will be gathered. The medium-term objectives for CelebrAGE will include aiming for academic critical mass at UCL with grant writing, position papers, creative public engagement and the acceleration of translational research outputs – as well as the integration of working practices with the NHS and care homes in the UK. Our long term ambition is to create a centre of excellence in ageing research to develop global standards for industry, extrapolate findings to other age groups of the society and ultimately influence Government policy about our ageing society.”
Dr Gareth Williams, Co-Investigator of CelebrAGE Innovation Network - UCL Innovation & Enterprise grant and Co-Director, EPSRC & SFI CDT in Transformative Pharmaceutical Technologies, added, “This EPSRC funding will enable us to build on the excellent work done on developing age-related medicines in the School, including by students on our Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced Therapeutics & Nanomedicines, and to reach out to a wider network of stakeholders to synergise ageing research efforts.”
CelebrAGE recognises the brilliant work that has been done on developing better healthcare solutions, treatments and support routes for older people. The focus will be to build the cross-disciplinary ageing research community at UCL with the aim of sharing the excellent achievements, disseminating the impactful outcomes, catalysing the research, integrating joint research goals and strengthening the links between science, policy and the public.
CelebrAGE will be supported by UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering (IHE), an interdisciplinary group spanning UCL developing the next generation of digital and medical technologies. Healthy ageing and multimorbidity through the life course is one of IHE’s identified research priorities and areas of strength.
Technologies being developed range from apps that facilitate behaviour change for improved health through to advanced diagnostic and therapeutic technologies that support the delivery of highly individualised care. IHE is particularly committed to strong public and patient engagement around healthy ageing research and will be aiming to amplify this emphasis within CelebrAGE.
In light of the recent pandemic, CelebrAGE will endeavour to work alongside key stakeholders to continue promoting the importance of healthy ageing within the older population. Efforts include finding ways to safely minimise feelings and impacts of isolation whilst encouraging independence.
Dr Orlu, CelebrAGE’s founder and lead, is keen to reach out to and welcome new collaborators and would like to hear from either UCL academics or potential external partners who are interested in learning more about this initiative or taking part. So, if you are interested in getting involved, please email Mine at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr Orlu added, “CelebrAGE will work towards bringing a positive image to ageing which is an inevitable life-stage. And we see that living longer could – and should - be celebrated if we can tap into translational advancements of cross-disciplinary research.”
As part of the effort to achieve CelebrAGE’s goals, the network endeavours to identify the real needs of an ageing population and develop innovative and translational solutions – such as combined therapies developed by advanced fabrication methods such as 3D printing, smart medicine boxes and digital smart home technologies - through the active dissemination of ongoing research activities.
During the past few months, the CelebrAGE team has worked with the Business Innovation Partnership team at UCL Innovation & Enterprise, in particular with Dr Laura Bovo the Innovation network manager, to develop and shape this network idea. Recently they hosted the first workshop inviting academics and NHS geriatricians to discuss the remit of the network, the accessibility of ageing research at UCL and how this can be disseminated to a wider audience – as well as tackling the five challenges identified by the Government to enable ‘at least five extra healthy independent years of life’.
Dr Orlu outlines the next steps for CelebrAGE as including:
- The compilation an open-access repository of up-to-date information of PIs and departments currently conducting appropriate ageing research at UCL – this list will help to form the initial CelebrAGE network of UCL academics who can contribute by way of ensuring appropriate impact
- The creation of an Idea Generation workshop to provide innovative solutions to concerns through current and/or repurposing of current activities or projects - and an Ageing Society Grand Challenge workshop to prioritise which challenge should be addressed first, thereby providing a focus on topics for future CelebrAGE events. These events will enable the growing academic community to meet the key clinicians and other healthcare professionals working alongside this ever-ageing population
- And finally, Dr Mine Orlu is looking forward to sharing more news about the formal launch of CelebrAGE later in 2020. So watch this space..!