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by Tom Freeman
19 January 2015
Edinburgh University examines healthy ageing

Edinburgh University examines healthy ageing

A million pounds has been granted to researchers at Edinburgh University to examine why some people’s brains age better than others.
More than 1,000 Scots will have their DNA decoded as part of the study, which will help researchers determine the impact a person’s genetic make-up has on their ability to stay sharp in old age.
Study participants include part of the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936, a group of individuals from Edinburgh who were 
born in 1936 and took part in school mental tests as 11-year-olds. 
The £1m grant was awarded to the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute and Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.
Professor Ian Deary, director of the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, said: “As well as lifestyle factors and health, we think genetic factors contribute to why some people’s brains and thinking skills age better than others. Until now, our genetic testing of the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 has been patchy. This new award will allow us comprehensively to examine people’s genetic status, and will add further value to the rich data provided by these dedicated participants.”
The Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 study is part of a larger project called the Disconnected Mind, which has been funded by Age UK since it began in 2004. It is also supported by the Medical Research Council.
Meanwhile Edinburgh University has also joined 34 partners from industry and academia in Paris to look at the prevention of Alzheimer’s dementia. The European Prevention of Alzheimer’s Dementia (EPAD) Initiative is a collaborative research initiative to improve the chance of successfully preventing Alzheimer’s dementia and to better understand early aspects of Alzheimer’s disease before dementia develops.
Prof Craig Ritchie, EPAD co-coordinator and professor of the Psychiatry of Ageing at the University of Edinburgh, said of the new initiative: “This could be a game-changer. It is only possible because of the absolute commitment of academics, industry, policymakers and the public to work hand in hand to defeat this global threat.” 

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