The Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing (ARCHA) was established to develop scientific solutions that promote successful ageing by asking how therapeutic strategies can be employed to understand and arrest age related decline. ARCHA comprises an established team of researchers who study healthy ageing, mental health and neuroscience across disciplines. ARCHA has invested in a multidisciplinary approach to successful ageing by asking how technological, therapeutic and psychosocial strategies can be employed in order to contribute to both understanding and prevention of age-related decline. This approach to research is possible because of the unique combination of expertise that exists in Aston University’s four Schools of Study. Academics from the fields of biology, ophthalmology, pharmacy, engineering, computer science, polymer chemistry, psychology, computational modelling, social science and economics are working together through ARCHA using state of the art equipment, methods and technology to address questions that are relevant to all aspects of the lives of our ageing population, with an underlying aim to influence the reduction of the gap between healthy lifespan and actual lifespan. The aims of ARCHA’s research programmes are central to Aston University’s mission to produce world-leading research and to be the source of ideas, developments and people who will shape healthy ageing of tomorrow. ARCHA currently has approximately £2.6 million of research funding, with members having support from funders such as BBSRC, MRC, Dunhill Medical Trust, Alzheimer’s Society, NIHR, The British Academy, The Royal Society, Alzheimer’s Research UK, The European Commission, Fight for Sight, the ExtraCare Charitable Trust, Pocklington Trust, NC3rs, Diabetes UK, local NHS trusts, and industry, such as the Binding Site Group Ltd, Insight Health Ltd and Sauflon Ltd.
ARCHA places older adults at the centre of its research, working closely with its own consultative panel of older adults. In addition to forming a resource for researchers who need participants for their studies, aspects of research proposals are discussed at meetings with the incorporated Birmingham Active Communication with Older People (BACOP) workshop at which stakeholders, mainly lay older adults, select critical topic for research and comment on proposed research plans with researchers. This group can be involved in most stages of planned research, and members are willing to specifically contribute, in a “co-creation” fashion, to research and research outcome design.