The Institute has been successful in securing funding from the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) to support the development of a range of projects where the Institute’s strengths in fundamental biology and ageing research can be utilised to address the needs of developing countries and promote improved welfare and economic growth.
Understanding the biological basis of healthy ageing is an increasingly relevant issue for developing countries as their population structure is changing, trending towards ageing populations by 2050 on all continents, except Africa. While the impact of age-associated decline in health is a challenge for developed countries, it is a far more significant problem for developing nations due to their reduced capacity to manage the increasing healthcare demand associated with an ageing population, which is further enhanced in developing countries due to the greater prevalence of infectious diseases.
An ageing population is also an important economic concern for developing nations as a larger proportion of persons over 65 years old are in the workforce than developed nations (World Population Ageing 1950-2050): over 50% in Africa, approximately 40% in Asia and Latin America compared with less than 1% in some developed nations (statistics from 2000; World Population Ageing 1950-2050). Thus, the development of strategies to promote healthy ageing will enhance the functional capacity of older individuals in developing nations, thereby reducing the demand for medical care and potentially increasing the number of older individuals contributing to the economy. Furthermore, understanding the mechanisms underpinning lifelong health in these populations allows the identification of opportunities for intervention when those mechanisms are influenced by challenging environments and cause disease.
Focusing on creating capacity and capability strengthening in developing countries, building partnerships and fostering research excellence, the GCRF Impact Acceleration Award (IAA) funding to the Institute will lay the foundations for the following initiatives:
Professor Michael Wakelam, Director of the Babraham Institute, commented: “The opportunities provided by the GCRF funding to the Institute will allow us to further extend the impact of our existing BBSRC support to reach developing countries and by exchange and collaboration to promote their economic development and welfare.
“The Institute has a long history of knowledge exchange and sharing our research expertise with partners from across the globe. Our existing relationships in Brazil and Jordan will allow us to rapidly pilot new initiatives to identify the most effective approaches to pursue as we establish new relationships in other developing countries, such as Uganda, Kenya and India.”
The Global Challenges Research Fund (£1.5 billion) was established by the UK Government to identify opportunities where the UK’s research expertise can be applied to address the challenges faced by developing countries.
World Population Ageing 1950-2050, Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations
19 October 2016