Our notion of what we believe to be possible changes at a pace, perhaps never so quickly as today. It is a little over ten years since we first experienced the entirety of the world’s knowledge through the smart phone in our pocket. Similarly in 2008, Twitter took flight and 140-character debates great and small became a reality, and Tesla’s first all-electric vehicle rolled off the production line to change perceptions of what the automobile can be.
It’s easy to be drawn to technology when making these points, but in the last generation we have seen changes in equality, politics and education – to name a few – that have challenged and disrupted the idea of what many thought possible just a few years prior.
Medical research has been no exception, with recent advances overcoming what once seemed so intractable. In the 1980s the average life expectancy of someone with HIV who developed AIDS was around 20 months. Thanks to new treatments delivered by medical research, someone with HIV today can expect to have a near-normal life expectancy. We have doubled cancer survival rates in the last twenty years. Heart attack deaths have halved.
These critical, life-changing, society-changing developments in medical research and elsewhere didn’t happen by chance. They were brought about by ambitious people, with big ideas, frequently backed by social movements, undaunted and inspired by what could be achieved.
This is the spirit that motivates us at Alzheimer’s Research UK and, we believe, the same spirit that leads thousands of you to donate, fundraise, take part in research, speak out, volunteer and give more power to our mission than ever. Collectively we are bringing the same attitude and attention to dementia research that we have brought to bear so successfully in cancer, coronary heart disease and beyond.
We are now focusing anew on growing this movement, to reach a critical mass where we will make the next life-changing breakthroughs possible. Our bold new campaign – Make Breakthroughs Possible – launches with a film that calls on us all to bring our innate spirit to survive to dementia. It’s unlike any film we’ve made before, but we have a tradition of provoking thought in our campaigns through big ideas. For people living with dementia and their families we need to have big ideas.
We know that dementia, now the biggest killer in the UK, takes the ultimate toll on individuals and the families around them. As our population ages, and with age the greatest risk factor for dementia, we need to redouble our efforts to bring hope to lives devastated by dementia today and in the future.
In response, we are today pledging to commit a further £250m to dementia research by 2025, the largest ever charity commitment to improving understanding, prevention, treatment and diagnosis – the four cornerstones of our work. It builds on the huge progress we have delivered in recent years that, with your support, has seen us establish the UK’s first network of Drug Discovery Institutes, invest as a founding member in the world-leading UK Dementia Research Institute, and power hundreds of innovative projects at universities across the UK and beyond. We remain committed to supporting the biggest ideas from the brightest minds and then equipping them with everything they need to deliver on the promise of their ambition.
The diseases behind dementia, most commonly Alzheimer’s, are physical processes that our research aims to slow, or to stop all together. We’ll come at the task from every angle and we’ll inspire the public, governments and funders around the world to join us in making these breakthroughs possible.