UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


UCL and UK supermarkets unite to beat dementia

5 October 2015

UK supermarkets Iceland, Asda, Morrisons and Waitrose have today pledged funds from the new levy on single-use carrier bags to support the construction of a new world class dementia research centre at UCL.

The Dementia Research Institute will bring together researchers from across UCL and UCLH to lead national and international efforts to find effective treatments and improve the lives of those with dementia.

Dementia is the greatest scientific, medical and socio-economic challenge of our times and affects more than 35 million people worldwide. UCL, through its translational neuroscience at Queen Square, can bring the breadth and depth of expertise required to deliver therapeutic advances to this devastating condition. Professor Alan Thompson, Dean of the UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences

The £350 million project currently has a shortfall in funding of £100 million, and the cash expected to be generated by carrier bag sales from Britain’s food retailers has the potential to bridge much of that gap. Initial calculations indicate the project could raise £20m in the first year, depending on patterns of carrier bag usage under the new system. No overheads are taken from the sums raised, with 100% of funds going to support dementia research.

Dementia already devastates the lives of far too many families across Britain – we urgently need to find more effective ways to prevent, delay or treat the diseases that cause it. There are real prospects for progress if we bring together the most able scientists and clinicians and support them in their research. This remarkable initiative by some of the UK’s leading supermarkets could make a real difference to accelerating that research. Professor Nick Fox, Director of the Dementia Research Centre, UCL Institute of Neurology

With the global cost of dementia estimated at more than £500 billion, the disease currently costs the UK economy more than cancer and heart disease combined. However, nearly seven times as much is spent on cancer research as is spent on dementia research by both the government and charities. Today’s announcement follows a collective agreement made by David Cameron and the World Dementia Council to identify a cure or disease-modifying therapy for dementia by 2025. 

The UCL Institute of Neurology is committed to working with all our partners at UCL, the National Hospital, nationally and internationally to develop therapies for patients in a new Dementia Research Institute (DRI) at Queen Square. This new partnership between UCL and leading supermarkets is a major step forward in realising our vision to develop an exceptional interdisciplinary research environment to drive the translation of scientific discoveries into new therapies. This new environment will be a central part of UCL’s Translational Neuroscience ambitions. UCL has made Dementia a key priority and the new DRI will be an exciting research focal point. It will enable UCL and all partners to rise to the Dementia Challenge set by the Prime Minster David Cameron. Professor Michael Hanna, Director of the UCL Institute of Neurology