New consortium aims to provide a unified voice on aging research in the UK

UKAgeNet brings together more than 60 organizations focused on aging research to tackle the multimorbidity epidemic.

There is an increasing sense of global urgency around the need to address the growing issue of multimorbidity – the coexistence of two or more chronic diseases. As people worldwide live longer and often experience more years in poor health, the need for research on conditions such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s is paramount.

In the UK, the issue of multimorbidity is pressing, with 50% of individuals aged 65 and over living with two or more chronic diseases, highlighting the critical nature of aging research. This message was recently underscored in a report by the UK’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty.

With the goal of addressing the challenges posed by an aging population, a new consortium has been launched in the UK. Bringing together more than 60 organizations focused on aging research, UKAgeNet aims to provide policy makers with accurate information and projections related to the field of aging. Initiated by the Healthy Lifespan Institute (HELSI) at the University of Sheffield, the cross-disciplinary initiative aims to expand the UK’s aging research capabilities and deliver impactful results to address the urgent need for collaborative efforts in tackling the multimorbidity epidemic.

“The UK has the opportunity to become a leading power in the field of aging research, but it needs to act quickly and decisively,” said Professor Ilaria Bellantuono, co-director of HELSI, which is recognized as the first interdisciplinary research institute dedicated to comprehending and preventing multimorbidity and frailty. “By bringing together leading experts in age-related research, we hope UKAgeNet will become one single voice which provides the government and the general public with accurate information and projections to raise the profile of this vital research area nationally and internationally.”

By leveraging the combined expertise of national centres, institutes, and groups, UKAgeNet aims to transform the understanding of the aging process and enhance the ability to intervene effectively. A central aim of the consortium is to elevate aging-related research as a top priority for the nation’s diverse aging population. However, a significant barrier to progress is the need for increased funding to establish the UK as an international hub for aging research. This investment is deemed critical, especially as other countries, such as the US, have identified a skills shortage in aging research.

“To maximise the opportunities offered by our aging society and respond to the challenges highlighted last week by the Chief Medical Officer’s report, it is vital to coordinate the UK’s considerable aging research strengths,” said Professor Alan Walker, co-director of HELSI, at the launch of UKAgeNet in the British parliament.

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