The World Dementia Council (WDC) was created following the G8 Dementia Summit in London in December 2013. The Summit resulted in a G8 Declaration, which set out an international response to dementia and a commitment to accelerate progress towards effective treatments and cures. Central to this was an ambition to identify a cure or a disease-modifying medicine for dementia by 2025 and a commitment to appoint a World Dementia Envoy to help achieve this goal.


Passing the mic

Dr Dennis Gillings CBE was appointed as the World Dementia Envoy and Chair of WDC. Membership of WDC was drawn from a range of international experts from research and academia, industry, the NGO sector and people living with dementia. The Council’s aims were to stimulate innovation and coordinate international efforts to attract new sources of finance to fund vital dementia research.

In February 2016, WDC re-formed to become fully independent. At the first meeting of the re-formed Council, Dr Dennis Gillings handed over the post of Chair to Dr. Yves Joanette, Scientific Director at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Ageing. Raj Long, Senior Advisor at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, became Vice-Chair. WDC became a charity in December 2016. In March 2018 Dr. Yves Joanette and Raj Long stood down. Harry Johns was elected chair of the council and Jeremy Hughes vice chair. 

WDC's impact

  • WDC helped shape the UK-Government-led work to establish the Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF). The DDF is a ground-breaking venture capital fund set up to boost investment in dementia by bringing together investors from private, public and philanthropic sectors to identify, invest in and advance early stage (pre-clinical) drug development projects
  • Raj Long, working with the UK government, facilitated and chaired meetings with eleven international regulators from ten global jurisdictions, who agreed to work collaboratively to improve dementia drug development. They identified five key work streams and continue to make progress. The international regulators also continue to liaise and meet to discuss dementia. This is now facilitated by OECD, one of WDC’s associate members and partner organisations
  • WDC acted as a catalyst for the World Health Organization’s (WHO) prioritisation of dementia, through its participation in the first WHO ministerial conference on dementia in March 2015; and its support for a WHO resolution on dementia in May 2016; for the creation of a Global Dementia Observatory, to be launched in 2017; and for the WHO Global Action Plan on the Public Health Response to Dementia, which will be approved at the World Health Assembly in May 2017