Gift from the Dennis and Mireille Gillings Foundation is the single largest received by the University of Exeter

£10M donation for Mireille Gillings Neuroimaging Centre, medical research and leadership programmes

The new Mireille Gillings Neuroimaging Centre will transform dementia research and diagnosis when it is built at the University of Exeter Medical School. It is being funded thanks to a £10 million donation from the Dennis and Mireille Gillings Foundation – the largest gift ever made to the University of Exeter. 

The new building, located at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (RD&E) site, will help accelerate clinical trials for potential dementia treatments over the next five years. The centre is the latest example of the close partnership working between the University of Exeter and the RD&E.

Dr Mireille Gillings is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of HUYA Bioscience International, a global leader in accelerating development of biopharma innovation from China. She has a unique balance of scientific and operational experience in neurological and neurodegenerative disease research, drug development, academic partnering programmes and extensive business leadership skills.

Dr M Gillings said: “As a neuroscientist I understand that the application of new scanning technology and techniques has the potential to transform neurological research. This new, state-of-the-art imaging centre will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in the molecular understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of Alzheimer’s and other neurological disease.”

Fifty million people around the world suffer from dementia. Currently there are less than 30 phase 2 or phase 3 trials for disease-modifying therapies for Alzheimer’s worldwide.

The new Mireille Gillings Neuroimaging Centre should double the number of dementia drugs in development, through innovative use of new brain-scanning technology and techniques. The centre has the potential to benefit patients globally.

Professor Clive Ballard, Dean of the University of Exeter Medical School and an internationally-recognised authority on dementia research, said: “This incredibly generous gift will help us make a real difference to people with dementia across the world. We urgently need new treatments. This new imaging centre will help us conduct innovative new trials to find them.”

The £10 million gift to the University of Exeter by the Dennis and Mireille Gillings Foundation will also be used to help improve cancer diagnosis by General Practitioners and to support the next generation of outstanding medical leaders.

The research, made possible by the Dennis and Mireille Gillings’ donation, has the potential to save thousands of lives and improve treatments for people in the South West of England, and across the world.

Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive at the University of Exeter, said: “Mireille and Dennis Gillings’ generosity and commitment to the University of Exeter has been exceptional. Their visionary philanthropy in the field of health has already helped us to grow our scientific community, and this new, extraordinary gift will help ensure our Medical School cements its place as one of the leading institutions in the world.”

Suzanne Tracey, Chief Executive at the RD&E, said: “We are pleased to be working with the University of Exeter and with the generous support of Mireille and Dennis Gillings to build a new Neuroimaging Centre that is set to play an important role in helping to better understand and tackle one of the most difficult health issues we face as a society: the growth in the numbers of people affected by dementia. The new facility will also underline that Exeter is becoming one of the leading centres for dementia research in the UK.”

Date: 18 April 2018

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