Business Irish

Friday 23 August 2019

Trinity get €138m donation to tackle global dementia problem

Trinity College in Dublin
Trinity College in Dublin

Michael Cogley

A MASSIVE €138.4m donation will put researchers at Trinity College Dublin in the front line in the global battle to develop treatments to tackle dementia.

Atlantic Philanthropies, the US grant-making foundation, is making the donation to both Trinity and the University of California (UCSF).

It will see the establishment of the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI).

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Atlantic Philanthropies, set up by New Jersey-born entreprenuer Chuck Feeney, is helping Ireland become a very age-friendly country.

The donation aims to tackle the growing problem of dementia. According to the latest figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO) 48 million people suffer from the disorder, and the estimated global cost of managing dementia was $604bn (€566bn) in 2010. And the numbers affected are expected to double every 20 years, as people live longer.

"This, however, forms only a part of Chuck Feeney's educational and research legacy in this country for which we are very grateful. The Government's vision is to make Ireland the 'best country in which to grow old' and we are delighted that Ireland is a part of this ambitious global initiative," the Taoiseach said.

Alzheimer's Disease Worldwide (ADW) estimated the global cost of dementia to have been $604bn (€566bn) in 2010 and expects this to grow exponentially.

Next year ADW expects it to accumulate costs of $818bn (€767bn) before breaking through the trillion dollar mark in 2018.

The GBHI initiative will see 600 global leaders trained over 15 yeas in the both the US and Ireland to help carry out dementia research, deliver health care and change existing policies.

The institute will have shared operations across Trinity and the UCSF and it will be jointly led by senior staff from both institutions.

Professor Ian Robertson of Trinity and Professor Bruce Miller of UCSF will both lead up the programme that will graduate 'Fellows' over a two year period. There will also be a second 'Scholars' programme that will last a year with the aim of providing shorter brain life experiences to people from various backgrounds.

Professor of Psychology at Trinity, Ian Robertson, said that the college is well placed to take on the growing issue of dementia.

"Dementia needs to be tackled across disciplines, from molecular biology to psychology and physiology to social science - to develop innovative, cutting edge solutions.

"Both Trinity and UCSF are well placed to do this, as we have leading academics and practitioners in all of these fields and close collaboration and service integration among people who work at all levels to meet this growing challenge."

Dr Patrick Prendergast, President and Provost of Trinity says: "The Atlantic Philanthropies and its founder Chuck Feeney have made the biggest private donation in Irish history.

"The sum donated is huge but so too is the problem we are trying to solve. There is hardly a family anywhere that has not experienced dementia in some shape or form," Dr Prendergast said.

According to a statement from Atlantic Philanthropies public health interventions addressing risk factors such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and lifestyle factors could prevent 3pc to 20pc of new dementia cases in 20 years.

Irish Independent

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