Research into ageing has received a major boost thanks to a 5.9 million Strategic Award from the Wellcome Trust, the UK's largest medical research charity. It is hoped that the award will help strengthen the UK's position in this rapidly developing field of research and will help scientists understand what it means to age.
The award has been made to Professor Linda Partridge, Professor Dominic Withers and Dr David Gems at UCL (University College London) who received 5.1 million, and to Professor Janet Thornton at the European Bioinformatics Institute, who received 750,000. The researchers will work in collaboration to explore the biological mechanisms that cause our bodies to age and decay.
"Our ageing population represents a major challenge to quality of life in the coming century and it is imperative that we look into what causes ageing," says Professor Partridge. "During the last decade, research into the biology underlying the ageing process has developed remarkably rapidly. It is likely that during the next decade the nature of the major cellular and biochemical mechanisms that determine longevity and ageing will be identified."
However, warns Professor Partridge, unless action is taken, the bulk of this research will all take place outside the UK.
"Although the field of ageing biology is growing within the UK, there is a risk that in the main this work will take place elsewhere, such as the US," she says. "That is why the Wellcome Trust award is crucial, to enable us to strengthen our research and infrastructure to keep pace with the development of this field. It is both desirable and, in principal, feasible to ensure that the UK develops and maintains world-class research into the biology of ageing."
Professor Partridge and colleagues will look at the cellular and biochemical mechanisms of ageing in fruit flies, nematode worms and mice, and in particular the role of insulin signalling. Recent research has
Contact: Craig Brierley