Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence

Supplementary evidence from the Wellcome Trust

  Further to your email of 26 January 2005, asking the Trust to supplement our written evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology regarding "Scientific Aspects of Ageing", please find below some more detailed explanation of how we arrived at the figures provided.

  As we discussed prior to submitting our evidence, the Trust funds a wide range of research that could be related to ageing, with a sub-set more narrowly focused on, for example, conditions that affect the elderly, but awards are not made through a specific scheme.

  In paragraph 3 of our evidence, we estimated that approximately £877 million of the research funded by the Wellcome Trust over the last 10 years is directly or indirectly related to ageing, using our broadest definition of ageing-related research.

  In our evidence we gave a break-down of some Trust funding in key research areas related to ageing in Annex 1. A total of £52.51 million is specifically related to "ageing or longevity" research, as these words appear either in the title of a grant or are specified in classification fields. The way this search was performed means that a grant cannot be "double counted", even where it can trigger more than one of the keywords.


  The relatively large amount of funding that you note went to vision research shown in Annex 1 can be in part explained by the fact that the Trust supported five buildings. A total of £31 million was awarded through the Joint Infrastructure Fund[14] (JIF) and a subsequent similar scheme, for buildings to conduct research into neuroscience and vision, some of which may be related to scientific aspects of ageing.

  The Trust also ran a specific Vision Research Fellowship scheme between 1994 and 1998, which funded 17 Fellows at a total cost of £2.4 million. However not all of the funding shown as relating to vision will be specific to ageing.


  A more targeted public health approach to ageing populations is incorporated within the Wellcome Trust's Health Consequences of Population Change Programme. [15] This is a five-year initiative which focuses on research into the health impact of shifts in population structure and dynamics in the developing world. One of five key research themes relates to demographic transitions, particularly public health issues of ageing populations where this poses a new set of problems for public health in the developing world.

  The Trust has funded a number of grants in the area including a major award to a Centre of Excellence in Population Research in Costa Rica, along with others, some of which have been highlighted in the Wellcome Trust Annual Review 2004 (enclosed, see page 44). So far 13 awards have been made in the area of "Ageing or Longevity", totalling £2.1 million and these awards are included under the total for "Ageing or Longevity" shown in Annex 1.

February 2005

14   JIF was a £750 million partnership between the Wellcome Trust, the Office of Science and Technology, and the Higher Education Funding Council for England. Buildings in Sussex, London, Belfast and Newcastle were supported for research into neuroscience and vision. Back

15   The programme is funded from 2001-06. See our website, Back

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