The University of California, San Francisco and Trinity College Dublin have announced a $177 million grant from Atlantic Philanthropies to create an institute focused on reducing the scale and impact of dementia globally.
The largest single non-capital grant in Atlantic's history will be used by the new Global Brain Health Institute to train at least six hundred fellows and scholars over fifteen years in the United States, Ireland, and around the world to carry out dementia research, deliver health care, and advocate for changes to policies and practices in their regions. To that end, the GBHI Fellows Program will train a total of eight fellows at UCSF and Trinity College Dublin for up to two years, while the Exchange Scholars Program will engage up to thirty-two multidisciplinary scholars at the two institutions for up to a year.
"We want to train leaders, not just in medicine and public policy, but also social science, journalism, law, business, and the arts who can teach others about the preventable causes of cognitive impairment, which disproportionately affect the poor," said UCSF Memory and Aging Center director Bruce Miller, who will lead the initiative with Ian Robertson, a neuroscientist at Trinity College. "That way, we can help change the course of this disease and protect vulnerable people around the world."
Although basic and clinical neuroscience faculty will provide the scientific foundation for fellows and scholars, the training will be multidisciplinary, integrating geriatrics, geropsychiatry, cognitive neuroscience, public policy, health economics, health law, and communications. Fellows will receive hands-on experience in diagnosis, treatment, and long-term management of patients with cognitive disorders, as well as elderly people who are at risk for brain health disorders.
Current estimates are that dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, affects nearly forty-eight million people worldwide — a figure that is expected to double every twenty years and more than triple by 2050.
"Our goal," said Atlantic Philanthropies president and CEO Christopher G. Oechsli, "is to create a generation of leaders around the world who have the knowledge, skills, and drive to change both the practice of dementia care and the public health and societal forces that affect brain health. By doing so, we hope to reduce dramatically the number of older people who develop this disease, which affects disproportionally those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged and consumes not just the millions directly afflicted, but their families and caregivers as well."