The Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI) is a leader in the global community dedicated to protecting the world’s aging populations from threats to brain health.
In 2015 The Atlantic Philanthropies gave significant funding to Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), to establish the Global Brain Health Institute, a ground breaking initiative that aims to tackle the looming dementia epidemic and improve brain health and dementia care worldwide.
GBHI works to reduce the scale and impact of dementia in three ways, by training and connecting the next generation of leaders in brain health through the Atlantic Fellows for Equity in Brain Health program; by collaborating in expanding preventions and interventions; by sharing knowledge and engaging in advocacy.
GBHI brings together a powerful mix of disciplines, professions, backgrounds, skill sets, perspectives and approaches to develop new solutions. We strive to improve brain health for populations across the world, reaching into local communities and across our global network. We focus on working compassionately with people in vulnerable and under-served populations to improve outcomes and promote dignity for all people.
The Brain Health and Dementia Challenge
Dementia is rapidly increasing around the world. About 50 million people were living with dementia globally in 2018. This is projected to more than triple to 152 million by 2050, overwhelming families, communities, public health care systems, and economies throughout the world. (World Alzheimer Report 2018).
Caring for those with dementia presents profound challenges to families and society, and the growing global burden is vastly underestimated. Risk for dementia is tightly linked to aging, and since the expansion of aging populations is occurring most rapidly in low and middle income countries, the personal, societal, and economic burden of dementia will be largely experienced in these regions.
There is currently no known prevention, cure, or effective treatment for dementia. Research shows that a public health approach to dementia could prevent up to 30 percent of the dementia cases projected around the world in the next two decades (Norton et al. 2014). Yet, very few countries have developed a national dementia plan, and dementia is often assumed a normal part of aging.
People live for many years after the onset of symptoms of dementia; with appropriate support, many can and should be enabled to continue to engage and contribute within society and have a good quality of life.
- The 2015 global cost of dementia was estimated to be US $818 billion.This figure will continue to increase to $1 trillion by 2018 and $2 trillion by 2030.
- Direct medical care costs account for roughly 20% of global dementia costs, while direct social sector costs and informal care costs each account for roughly 40%.
- Between 2015 and 2050, the number of older people living in high-income countries is forecast to increase by 56% and by 239% in low-income countries.
- By 2050, 71% of all people living with dementia will live in low- and middle-income countries.
Sources: World Alzheimer Report 2018, The Lancet Series on Ageing, “Dementia: A Public Health Priority” by WHO and Alzheimer’s Disease International, “Global Efforts” by the Alzheimer's Association, “Government Alzheimer plans” by Alzheimer's Disease International
The Triple Threat on Equity
Dementia is driven by the same social determinants that drive physical health problems, and these are rooted in socio-economic inequities – lower education, poor diet, less access to care, and inadequate treatment of hypertension, among other medical diseases. Dementia will greatly augment these other socio-economic inequities across the world because of the disproportionate rise in dementia in low and middle income countries. Further, dementia propels additional inequities through the stigma of the disease and augments the stigma of aging across the globe.
Bruce L. Miller, MD
Professor of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco
Ian Robertson, PhD
Professor of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin
Lea Grinberg, MD, PhD Executive Committee Member Associate Professor of Neurology and Pathology, University of California, San Francisco
Brian Lawlor, MD
Deputy Executive Director, GBHI
Professor of Psychiatry, Trinity College Dublin
Lorina Naci, PhD, MsC Executive Committee Member Assistant Professor of Psychology Trinity College Dublin
Victor Valcour, MD, PhD
Executive Director, GBHI
Professor of Geriatric Medicine in Neurology, University of California, San Francisco
Veronica Campbell, PhD
Bursar & Director of Strategic Innovation
Office of the Provost
Trinity College Dublin
Maria C. Carrillo, PhD
Chief Science Officer
S. Andrew Josephson, MD
Professor of Neurology and Chair
Department of Neurology
University of California, San Francisco
Stephen McConnell, PhD
Civic Participation Action Fund
The Atlantic Philanthropies
The Atlantic Philanthropies is dedicated to advancing opportunity, equity, and human dignity. Established in 1982, when Chuck Feeney quietly committed virtually all of his assets to the foundation, Atlantic has since made grants approaching $8 billion. In keeping with Mr. Feeney’s “Giving While Living,” big-bet philosophy, Atlantic invests in systemic change to accelerate improvements in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people. The foundation, which has operated in Australia, Bermuda, Cuba, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United States and Vietnam, will complete all grant making in 2016 and conclude operations shortly afterward.
Trinity College Dublin
Founded in 1592, Trinity College Dublin is the oldest university in Ireland and one of the older universities of Western Europe. Trinity College Dublin offers a unique educational experience across a range of disciplines in the arts and humanities, engineering and science, and social and health sciences. As Ireland’s premiere university, the pursuit of excellence through research and scholarship is at the heart of a Trinity education. Aging, as a multidisciplinary field, has been identified by Trinity College as a strategic theme with 140 academics actively involved in research across all aging related domains in a systematic way: The Mind, Body, Social Environment, and Built Environment. At present, interdisciplinary research is undertaken in areas such as brain aging, stroke and heart disease, population health, falls and syncope, mental health, geriatric oncology, end-of-life, elder abuse, health care services, technology innovations, smart cities, intergenerational transfers, pensions, financial security, and the life course. It involves experts from the fields of biology, public health, medicine, informatics, macroeconomics, finance, urban planning, engineering, technologies, globalization and migration, the law, sociology, business, and philosophy.
University of California, San Francisco
UCSF is a health science campus, providing outstanding training in all major medical disciplines, including nursing, physical therapy, dentistry, and medicine. The Memory and Aging Center (MAC) exists within the Department of Neurology in the School of Medicine and provides the highest quality of care for individuals with cognitive problems, conducts research on causes and cures for degenerative brain diseases, and educates health professionals, patients, and their families about healthy aging and neurodegenerative disease. The MAC is situated in a stimulating environment within UCSF that includes partnerships with the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, UCSF Division of Geriatrics, UCSF School of Nursing, UCSF School of Pharmacy, Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, UC Hastings College of Law, UCSF Global Health Sciences, and others.