Finlay dedicated the new laboratories to his late wife UnaChris Loades

An alumnus of the University has donated £5 million towards finding the causes of neurodegenerative diseases.

The gift from R. Derek Finlay,  who attended Emmanuel College, will be used to complete the Chemistry of Health building and fund research into neurodegenerative diseases.

The building, which is due to open in 2018, will be situated in the Department of Chemistry and will house the Centre for Misfolding Diseases.

The Centre will head new frontiers of innovative research into the fundamental causes of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and type 2 diabetes, particularly the so-called the ‘misfolding’ of protein molecules.

Finlay has personally experienced the devastating impacts of such diseases. His wife, Una Finlay, passed away in 2016 due to Alzheimer’s disease.

Last week, Finlay unveiled a plaque dedicating the laboratories of the Centre’s building to his late wife Una. This plaque will be kept within the Chemistry of Health building once it opens in 2018.

Finlay said, “It is my hope that the new Chemistry of Health Building will enable breakthroughs to be made in our understanding of neurodegenerative diseases, bringing us closer to the development of new treatments.

“My gift to support Cambridge’s pioneering work in this area is in memory of my dear late wife, Una, herself a sufferer of Alzheimer’s.”

Professor Christopher Dobson, director of the Centre’s research, will be leading research into the understanding of misfolding proteins in humans and studying new methods of accelerating the new treatments and diagnostics.

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 his late wife 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 make a giant step forward in translating recent breakthroughs made in Cambridge into future treatments to combat these rapidly proliferating and truly devastating conditions.”

Finlay has been a long-standing donor to the University and its colleges, having previously supported a number of initiatives in Emmanuel. The College Museum is endowed and named in honour of his late brother, Douglas Finlay.

After Finlay’s latest donation to the University of Cambridge, the Guild of Cambridge Benefactors has made him a Companion of the organisation

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