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Mr R. Derek Finlay, left, with the late Professor Chris Dobson.

Supporting the Chemistry of Health Building

"I hope the new building will enable breakthroughs in our understanding of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and bring us closer to the development of new treatments.

I am supporting it in memory of my dear late wife, Una, who suffered from Alzheimer's."

Cambridge alumnus R. Derek Finlay has donated £5 million to fund the completion of the department's new Chemistry of Health building, and to support new research in one of the centres that will be housed in it - the Centre for Misfolding Diseases. The new building was officially opened in 2018.

The primary focus of the Centre for Misfolding Diseases is to understand the molecular origins of diseases - including Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Type 2 diabetes and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis - that are associated with the misfolding and aggregation of proteins. All these diseases have huge personal and social costs associated with them. 

Mr Finlay was moved to make his gift after hearing Professor Chris Dobson, co-director of the Centre for Misfolding Diseases, talk about its work. Mr Finlay's wife Una suffered from Alzheimer's and died of the disease in 2016. "My gift to support Cambridge's pioneering work in this area is in memory of her," he said.

Professor Dobson said: "We are enormously grateful for this generous benefaction from Derek and honoured that our laboratories within the building will be named after Una. Disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease are becoming frighteningly common in the modern world. The Chemistry of Health building will enable us to take a giant step forward in translating recent breakthroughs made in Cambridge into future treatments to combat these rapidly proliferating and truly devastating conditions."

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