Trinity College Dublin receives largest charitable donation in Irish history to tackle dementia

Landmark gift from foundation started by Irish-American billionaire will fund work in US and Ireland

November 20, 2015
TCD trinity college dublin dementia research atlantic
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Former Czech freedom fighter Josef Veselsky is now a student at Trinity College Dublin

The largest philanthropic donation in the history of the Republic of Ireland is to fund a new dementia research institute at Trinity College Dublin.

The €138.4 million (£97 million) gift by Atlantic Philanthropies will enable the creation of the Global Brain Health Institute, which will be jointly based at the University of California, San Francisco.

The initiative, announced by Ireland’s Taoiseach Enda Kenny on 17 November, will train 600 global leaders over 15 years in the US, Ireland and across the world to carry out dementia research, deliver healthcare, and change policies and practices.

It will also partner with other institutions in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Australia to combat the disease, which affects more than 48 million people globally.

“The sum donated is huge, but so too is the problem we are trying to solve,” said Patrick Prendergast, president and provost of Trinity.

“There is no doubt in my mind that this imaginative project will bring benefits to people around the world, create jobs here in Ireland and deepen Trinity’s expertise in neuroscience and ageing,” he added.

The initiative will have shared operations in Trinity and San Francisco that will be led by Ian Robertson, Trinity’s professor of psychology, and Bruce Miller, a behavioural neurologist and director of the Memory and Aging Center at San Francisco.

The central programme will graduate “fellows” over a two-year period who 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 of brain health disorders. They will also be trained in how to help affected families and their caregivers.

A second “scholars” programme, lasting one year, will focus on providing shorter training courses on brain health for people from a wide variety of fields, including journalists, managers, film-makers and others.

“Our goal 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,” said Christopher G. Oechsli, president and chief operating officer of Atlantic Philanthropies, which was founded by the Irish-American billionaire businessman Chuck Feeney.

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Terry Neill is a governor of London Business School and co-chair of the external advisory board of the Trinity Long Room Hub. "Within the arts and humanities," he says, "there's an extraordinary body of knowledge about human beings - how they behave, how they learn, what motivates or de-motivates them, their values, and what you can learn from their history - but most of the time only a tiny fraction of it is applied in business, government and society. It is somehow trapped in the halls of academia. There is an extraordinary challenge - and opportunity - to engage and bring that knowledge and insight to the wider world."

9 September


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