Alzheimer’s research in Cardiff gets a £76,000 boost

Cardiff dementia researchers supported by South Wales Freemasons

Research into a crucial protein linked to the development of Alzheimer’s has been supported by a £76,000 grant from South Wales Freemasons.

The grant is funding an Alzheimer’s Research UK PhD student, Aurora Veteleanu, at the UK Dementia Research Institute at Cardiff University.

Scientists know that small changes to a gene that provides the instructions for producing a protein called clusterin are linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The clusterin protein has also been found in amyloid plaques which build up in the brain during Alzheimer’s disease.

This £76,000 donation will allow Aurora Veteleanu to investigate if and how, variations to the clusterin gene change the amount of protein in the brain. Exploring clusterin biology will add detail to our understanding of how proteins build up in the brain during Alzheimer’s and could present a new avenue for future treatments.

Rob Payne (l) from South Wales Freemasons meets Prof Paul Morgan (r) – PI of Alzheimer’s Research UK funded PhD Aurora Veteleanu at the UK DRI in Cardiff.

The first step towards their goal will be to find a reliable and accurate way to measure levels of clusterin in the blood, spinal fluid and brain. Ms Veteleanu will also explore how clusterin is made and released from cells in the brain. She will use stem cell techniques to grow brain cells in a dish that have the variations of the DNA code known to increase Alzheimer’s risk.

The grant from South Wales Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales

Nearly one million people in the UK are living with dementia, a progressive condition for which there is currently no cure.

People with dementia experience memory loss, confusion, personality changes and gradually lose the ability to manage daily life. The condition is caused by physical brain diseases and evidence shows dementia is also linked to a higher risk of severe COVID-19. But with potential new treatments on the horizon, there is renewed hope for those living with dementia.

Aurora Veteleanu completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Leeds before moving to Cardiff to work in Prof Paul Morgan’s lab at the UK DRI Cardiff. The Cardiff centre is one of seven world class research facilities across Britain that comprise the UK DRI which has a total £290m of investment.

Aurora Veteleanu from Cardiff University said:
“I am most grateful to Alzheimer’s Research UK and South Wales Freemasons for their support during the uncertain times we are living in. I’m excited to start the project and hope that I can make a difference to those living with dementia.”

Alzheimer’s Research UK estimates it could be facing a potential drop in income due to COVID-19 of up to 45%; nevertheless, the charity is committed to funding science in the region.

Dr Rosa Sancho, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“Dementia affects around 42,000 people in Wales, and nearly one million people across the UK. Research like this carried out by dementia experts is the only answer to a world free from the fear, harm and heartbreak of the condition.

“Alzheimer’s Research UK remains committed to funding the best science and Cardiff has a strong dementia research community. Funding research like this would not be possible without donations from our fantastic supporters. Now more than ever, dementia research needs our backing. Supporters can donate at or by calling call 0300 111 5555.”

Rob Payne from South Wales Freemasons said:
“I’m very pleased we’ve been able to support this hugely important research. Alzheimer’s destroys lives and families and Aurora’s research may well be one major step in the road that leads to a treatment for this terrible condition one day.”

Julie Williams, Centre Director, UK Dementia Research Institute at Cardiff, commented:
“This generous gift will help us to build up a clearer picture of what causes Alzheimer’s and how it progresses. Our researchers are working hard to fill the gaps in our knowledge about dementia and find treatments that will transform people’s lives. We are determined to succeed and donations like this are vital to that ambition.”


For further information, please contact Ed Pinches, Science Communications Officer on 0300 111 5 666, 07876573717 or email 

Notes to editors:

  • Alzheimer’s Research UK is the UK’s leading charity specialising in finding preventions, treatments and a cure for dementia.
  • For our latest updates follow us on Twitter @AlzResearchUK
  • Our animation “What is dementia?” explains the essentials of dementia and the diseases that cause it
  • We rely on donations to fund our vital dementia research. To help make breakthroughs possible, donate today by visiting or calling 0300 111 5555.
  • We are currently supporting pioneering dementia research projects worth nearly £34 million in leading Universities across the UK.
  • How can we challenge perceptions of dementia using only an orange? Find out more at and help us share a better understanding about dementia. #ShareTheOrange

For further information about the Masonic Charitable Foundation, please contact Guy Roberts, Press Officer (  0203 146 3311)

About the Masonic Charitable Foundation

The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) is one of the largest grant-making charities in the country. Funded entirely through the generosity of Freemasons and their families, the MCF awards millions of pounds each year to local and national charities that help vulnerable people, advance medical research and provide opportunities for young people. The MCF also helps to fund vital services such as hospices and air ambulances and regularly contributes to worldwide appeals for disaster relief.  In total, MCF support helps to improve the lives of thousands of people every year in England, Wales and internationally. As well as providing grants to charities, the MCF supports Freemasons and their families with a financial, health or family need. Visit

About the UK Dementia Research Institute

The national UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI) is the single biggest investment in dementia research in the UK. Established in 2017 by the Medical Research Council, Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK, the £290 million institute is hosted across six leading UK universities: University of Cambridge, Cardiff University, University of Edinburgh, Imperial College London and King’s College London, with its central hub at UCL. The UK DRI works on ways to prevent, treat and care for people with all types of dementia, and ways to keep the brain healthy.