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Maximising Ageing Research at UCL: post discussion report

18 November 2013, UCL School of Pharmacy

At UCL, research on ageing is very diverse, ranging from basic biological studies to age-related diseases and the creation of engineered products designed to circumvent age-associated disability. Already generating excellent research outputs, UCL’s ageing-related research is growing to deliver higher impact outputs through initiatives such as the Grand Challenges programme’s Festival of Ageing, fostering cross-disciplinary collaborations between researchers based in different UCL faculties.

The UCL School of Pharmacy hosted a one day workshop on 18th November 2013 entitled “Maximising the impact of ageing research at UCL”. This workshop was co-organised by UCL Institute of Healthy Ageing, funded by UCL Crucible and supported by the UCL Grand Challenge of Human Wellbeing. It brought together 55 researchers from seven of UCL’s ten Faculties – including Life Sciences, Medical Sciences, Brain Sciences, Engineering Sciences, Population Health Sciences, Social & Historical Sciences; and also from UCL Hospital. Moreover representatives of European Medicines Agency and Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency attended as observers.

The workshop started with presentations on ageing-related research in various UCL departments. Speakers were Prof Duncan Craig, Director of UCL School of Pharmacy; Prof Dame Linda Partridge, Director of UCL Institute of Healthy Ageing; Prof Arne Akbar, Professor of Immunology at UCL Research Department of Immunology; Prof Mohan Edirisinghe, Bonfield Chair of Biomaterials at Department of Mechanical Engineering; Prof Andrew Steptoe, Director of UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care; Prof Sir Peng Khaw; Director of UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Dr Mine Orlu-Gul, Lecturer in UCL School of Pharmacy. Dr Jacob Sweiry, Principal Research Facilitator for UCL SLMS, gave a presentation on funding streams for research on ageing / life course approach to healthy ageing. In the second half of the workshop attendees discussed various aspects of ageing to generate research questions, sharing their opinions towards synergic use of methodologies and technologies available at UCL to improve translational research focused on the health and wellbeing of older people. Emergent ideas for cross-disciplinary research included:

· Investigation of the most important factors for effective re-packaging of older people`s medicines (from original packaging to home-use ‘Dosette’ box)

· Defining the most important criteria in `stopping` and `starting` medicines in older people

· Repurposing of approved drugs for ageing-related diseases and the development of a library of key bioactive compounds

The workshop proved to be a fruitful platform for exchanging ideas. It proved very effective in promoting cross-disciplinary approaches to research on ageing within and between UCL departments. It could be a valuable model for future research community-building initiatives responding to UCL’s Research Strategy and the Grand Challenges.

Mine Orlu-Gul
Lecturer, UCL School of Pharmacy

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