Flemish brain expert to lead UK Dementia Research Institute


KU Leuven professor Bart De Strooper has been chosen from an international list of candidates to run the University College of London’s new Dementia Research Institute

‘Cure in my lifetime’

Flemish neuroscientist Bart De Strooper of life sciences research institute VIB and the University of Leuven (KU Leuven), has been appointed as head of the new UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI) at the University College of London.

De Strooper, 56, is head of the laboratory for the research of neurodegenerative diseases at KU Leuven. He focuses on the genetic mechanisms that cause Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

He was selected as head of UK DRI after an international search. De Strooper (pictured) will continue working for the VIB and KU Leuven as well.

UK DRI was established through an investment of £250 million (€297 million), allocated by the UK government and Alzheimer’s charities, principally to carry out research on better ways to diagnose, treat and prevent dementia. The researchers will also work on other brain-associated conditions, like Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease.

The institution will open its doors next month and provide a new working space to about 50 professors and 400 researchers. According to De Strooper, it has the potential to bring dementia research up to the same level as cancer research.

He is optimistic, he says, that a cure for Alzheimer’s disease will be found during his lifetime. “But we shouldn’t keep thinking that one harmful protein causes dementia,” he told De Morgen. “We also have to take into account other processes in the brain.” 

Photo courtesy VIB