On the 18th of April, the University of Exeter announced that it had received its biggest ever single donation of £10 million from the Dennis and Mireille Gillings Foundation. The sum will be used for the new Mireille Gillings Neuroimaging Centre, which will focus primarily on dementia research and diagnosis.
The facility will be built at the University of Exeter Medical School on the grounds of the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (RD&E Hospital). It is claimed that the centre will double the number of dementia drugs under development by accelerating clinical trials of dementia treatments.
the centre will double the number of dementia drugs under development.
An honorary graduate of the University of Exeter since 2017, Dr Mireille Gillings is founder and CEO of HUYA Bioscience International, and has been named as the 22nd richest woman in Britain in the 2017 Sunday Times Rich List. Her name has come to be internationally renowned for her role in developing biopharma innovation from China. She is also a stakeholder in the Quintiles, a pharmaceutical research company founded by her husband Dennis Gillings.
Of her generous donation, Dr Mireille Gillings commented that “[t]his new, state-of-the-art imaging centre will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in the molecular understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of Alzheimer’s and other neurological disease.”
Some of the £10 million donated will reportedly also be used to focus on improving cancer diagnoses by GPs.
Many have expressed excitement as to what the new development will mean for the city of Exeter. Chief Executive of the RD&E, Suzanne Tracey reflected that the neuroimaging centre will “underline that Exeter is becoming one of the leading centres for dementia research in the UK”.
“Exeter is becoming one of the leading centres for dementia research in the UK” – Suzanne Tracey.
In a statement, Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Exeter, also added that Mireille and Dennis Gillings’ “visionary philanthropy in the field of health has already helped us to grow our scientific community, and this new, extraordinary gift will help ensure our Medical School cements its place as one of the leading institutions in the world.”