UCL News


International collaboration focuses on new research into neurodegenerative diseases

30 November 2018

Researchers at UCL will play a lead role in a £16 million international collaboration aimed at finding new treatments and improving support for people with brain diseases, including dementia.

MRI scan

The Alzheimer’s Society, along with Department of Health and Social Care England, Health and Care Research Wales and Health and Social Care Northern Ireland, has committed £2.15 million to the Joint Progamme – Neurodegenerative Diseases  (JPND) in the UK.

Significant other money will come from institutions across the EU and international partners,  

The JPND programme will support international research collaborations into diseases of the brain, including those that cause dementia and harness the collective expertise of researchers to speed up progress towards new treatments and address shared challenges in health and social care.

Researchers from 15 countries across Europe, Australia and Canada will work together over the next three years.  

There are estimated to be 50 million people in the world affected by dementia in 2018. This number is set to rise to 152 million by 2050. This programme reflects the urgent need for better health and social care for the 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK and their loved ones. Through research, we can identify the best ways to plug this vital gap so that people in the UK can live well throughout all stages of their condition. 

UK research teams are involved in eight of the 10 projects awarded funding. These researchers have provided an ambitious, collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach to address an important aspect of health or social care. This might be at a system and services level, right down to the individual level of patients, their carers and families.

Professor Greta Rait (UCL Epidemiology and Heath Care) and Professor Louise Robinson at Newcastle University will work with a multinational team on one of the ten funded projects to understand the barriers and deliver new solutions to improve the experience of dementia diagnosis and post-diagnostic support.

To ensure the relevance of these solutions, this work will be conducted and delivered in partnership with people with dementia, family carers, partners and health care professionals.
Research teams are included from Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Poland and the UK. The CO-desiGning demeNtia dIagnoSis ANd post-diagnostic CarE (COGNISANCE) project builds on the Alzheimer’s Society Centre of Excellence, hosted at University of Newcastle and supported by UCL, which is developing primary care and community models of post-diagnostic support.

Professor Rait said: “This international collaboration is a really exciting opportunity to improve the experience of dementia diagnosis and post diagnostic care. We will be working in partnership with people with dementia, carers and health professionals to ensure that our findings are relevant to the people they impact on. This work builds on the substantial dementia research expertise at the Research Department of Primary Care and Population Health at UCL.”

Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, who led the UK funding of the initiative, says: “One person develops dementia every three seconds across the world. Dementia is a global problem, and we need global collaboration to defeat it.

“Alzheimer’s Society is committed to a world without dementia, but we can’t achieve this on our own. Uniting the Department of Health and Social Care (England), Health and Social Research Wales, and Health and Social Care Northern Ireland as well as 15 other countries to fund these eight ambitious new global care research programmes, brings us a step closer to making this a reality.  

“Our funding supports research in the UK, but we know the reach of our work is far wider. Sharing findings internationally and setting up collaborations around the world makes research funding go further, and allows researchers to be a part of cutting-edge dementia research.

“Alzheimer’s Society is committed to spend at least £150 million on dementia research in the next decade. As the only UK charity funding research into dementia care, cure and prevention, we are delighted to include the Joint Programme – Neurodegenerative Disease as part of our research portfolio.”



Credit: Nature

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Rowan Walker

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Email: rowan.walker [at] ucl.ac.uk