Imperial bioengineer awarded multi-million dollar funding for age research


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Dr Guang Yang from the Department of Bioengineering and I-X has been awarded funds from the Wellcome Leap Dynamic Resilience Programme.

Today's older adults have much better health than previous generations. However, there are still major individual differences among older people of the same age: why can some people go hiking, while others need to use a wheelchair to get around? How can some play chess with their grandchildren, but others struggle with their memory?

Dr Guang YangDr Guang Yang, Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor at Imperial College London’s Department of Bioengineering and I-X, together with collaborators led by Dr Evandro Fang from the University of Oslo, has been awarded a multi-million dollar contract from Wellcome Leap's Dynamic Resilience programme, jointly funded with Temasek Trust, to explore why there are such large differences in the health status of older people.

The research will focus on delirium, an acute state of mental confusion that is very common among people over 70 who are hospitalized for infection, injury or surgery, which can lead to frailty progression and dementia.

‘Our objective in this project is to delve into the molecular and cellular aspects to comprehend why certain older adults are more susceptible to delirium than others. Additionally, we aim to explore the potential for enhancing their resilience as a means to mitigate this risk,’ says Dr Yang.

‘Through the globally renowned Dynamic Resilience programme, we have been granted significant funding that enables us to investigate this inquiry comprehensively, both in controlled laboratory settings and real-world clinical environments. Our approach involves analysing the extensive human HUNT cohorts over an extended period, conducting laboratory experiments, and harnessing the capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) technology. AI will assist us in quantifying, predicting, and potentially enhancing dynamic resilience, which refers to the capacity to fully recover from acute stressors like severe infections or injuries, particularly in relation to delirium and dementia.’ Dr Yang also emphasizes that the success of this project could yield immediate clinical applications.

Dr Fang from the University of Oslo said: ‘I am excited to lead this project. As a researcher on ageing for more than 10 years, a key question is always why some people age so well, while many others suffer from physical decline and memory loss. Delirium received significant attention during the pandemic, as many older patients who were hospitalized with Covid-19 developed delirium.’

Dr Yang will lead the AI streams of the study, while the overall program will be led by Dr Fang with his molecular gerontology team from the University of Oslo. Partners in the project include Professor Leiv Otto Watne at UiO and Akershus University Hospital and Professor Geir Selbæk at UiO and the Norwegian National Centre for Ageing and Health. The project also includes Professor David C. Rubinsztein and his research team in molecular neurogenetics from the University of Cambridge and an AI in Drug Discovery partner in the industry (

Adapted from a press release from the University of Oslo.

See the press release of this article


Helen Wilkes

Helen Wilkes
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