Aston Research Centre for Health in Ageing (ARCHA)

We are transforming older people’s lives for the better, helping them to lead healthier and more fulfilling lives through our research into health, disease, and the ageing process across the adult lifespan.


The mission of the Aston Research Centre for Health in Ageing (ARCHA) is to understand, predict, prevent and treat age-related degeneration and disease. We have a specific focus on health, metabolism, the mind, and medicines in the context of the biology, psychology, and clinical aspects of ageing. 

Our cross-disciplinary team of researchers specialise in biology, psychology, medicine, pharmacy and allied health sciences. Research within the centre contributes to two of the College of Health and Life Sciences’ four key multidisciplinary themes; cellular and molecular biomedicine, and health and disease across the lifespan.

Aston Brain Health Cohort Study (ABaHCoS)

Funded by the Dunhill Medical Trust, the ExtraCare Charitable Trust and Aston University, this suite of 5 PhD studentships will explore the early prediction of dementia risk.

View the Projects

Expert commentary

In addition to research, members of the team are regularly asked to provide their specialist expertise on a range of national TV and radio shows, helping to bring awareness to the important research ongoing in this area to the wider public.   Recent specialist expertise has included:

In addition to academic research, members of our team are also regularly asked to provide their specialist expertise on a range of TV and radio shows, including: 

  • How to Stay Young, BBC1  
  • Trust Me I’m a Doctor, BBC2 
  • ITV's Tonight: OAP Bootcamp, ITV 
  • Old People’s Home for 4-Year-Olds, Channel 4 


ARCHA is a partner in the CFIN BBSRC/MRC funded UK Ageing Network. Within Aston we have links with colleagues in Engineering and Physical Sciences, the Optical Technologies, and Devices Research Centre – who study age related denegation of the eye, and the Centre for Health and Society.

We also collaborate with other leading universities, charities, patient advocate groups, hospital trusts, and industry leaders across the UK and Europe. We work closely with these groups on a range of projects to deliver pioneering research and tangible outcomes that positively impact our society.


Our major funders include leading research societies, charitable foundations, and NHS trusts including: 

  • Alzheimer's Research UK 
  • Binding Site UK 
  • British Academy
  • Diabetes UK 
  • Dunhill Medical Trust
  • Elaros 24/7
  • Eveson Trust 
  • ExtraCare Charitable Trust 
  • Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust 
  • Royal College of Surgeons 
  • Royal Society 
  • Society of Biology 
  • Society for Endocrinology 
  • Thomas Pocklington Trust 
  • UKRI

Getting Involved

ARCHA Participant Panel and Research Advisory Group

At ARCHA, we greatly value the input of the older adult community in Birmingham and beyond. You can help us to understand the ageing process in two ways:

  1. The ARCHA Research Advisory Group (RAG) volunteer their time to advise our researchers on all aspects of their projects from the earliest stages of project inception and throughout the management and delivery of projects. Members of the RAG agree to be contacted about projects and can then choose when and how to get involved.
  2. Members of the ARCHA Participant Panel support our work by volunteering to participate in studies, providing their data to our researchers. Studies can be conducted in-person on our city centre campus or at home, online, or on the telephone and can involve experiments, questionnaires, interviews, or various forms of imaging. All studies have ethical approval and full details are given before panel members agree to take part.

You can join the ARCHA Participant Panel and/or RAG by email:

People and publications

We are a multidisciplinary team formed of researchers with diverse academic specialisms including biology, psychology, allied health sciences, business, engineering, social sciences and humanities.

Director: Prof Andrew Schofield
Andrew is a Professor of Psychology at the College of Health and Life Sciences. His research is focused on understanding the mechanisms of visual perception and how this changes as we age. 

ARCHA Management Group
Prof Andrew Schofield (Chair / Director).
Prof Andrew Devitt (External funding).
Dr Valia Rodriguez Rodriguez (Internal engagement).
Dr Duane Mellor (External engagement). 
Dr Jen Whale (Strategic Funding Manager, College of Health and Life Sciences)

Research projects

ApoE, circulating oxylipidome and nutritional cognitive neuroscience

Iru Dias, Alzheimer’s Association; £107K; Exploring the links between ApoE, circulating oxylipidome and nutritional cognitive neuroscience in Alzheimer’s disease.


Oxylipid accumulation in brain cells

Iru Dias, Alzheimer’s Association; Alzheimer’s Research UK; £50K; Oxylipid accumulation in brain cells: the influence of ApoE genotype

Pathological Synergy between Protein Aggregates and Glycosaminoglycans;

Caroline Kardeby, British Heart Foundation; £312K; Investigating a novel mechanism underlying increased risk of vascular events in Parkinson’s disease - Dissecting pathological synergy between protein aggregates and glycosaminoglycans.


Impact of Ageing on Active Extracellular Vesticles and MSC

Andrew Devitt, Dunhill Medical Trust; £50K; Understanding the impact of ageing on active Extracellular Vesicles from Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (MSC): towards novel therapies in wound healing

Completed projects

ExtraCare Project

ExtraCare is the UK’s leading not-for-profit developer of housing for over 55s, with retirement villages and housing developments across the Midlands and south of England. 

This project looked at the ExtraCare approach to see if it delivered on their vision - to create better lives for older people – and if healthier ageing resulted in cost savings in health and social care.

Our three-year study measured health, illness, wellbeing, activity and personal perceptions. 

In a longitudinal study, we compared 162 new residents against 39 control participants. We took measures of health, wellbeing, cognitive ability and mobility at entry, 3, 12 and 18 months.  

Qualitative data was gathered using focus groups, interviews and case studies. Participants also kept a diary to record activities.


Elaros Digital Bladder Diary

Excess trips to the toilet at night (nocturia) can be a predictor for future falls. ARCHA is working with Elaros on a project to assess the usability of their digital bladder diary smartphone application, in place of paper bladder diaries in older adults. The system is being trialled in care homes and ExtraCare Retirement Villages as part of an Innovate UK grant.

Resident Bereavement Supporter Project

The Bereavement Supporter Project is a five-year partnership between Cruse Bereavement Care and The ExtraCare Charitable Trust, and is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund. It is a pioneering public-health approach to bereavement support for older people. 

The Bereavement Supporter Project aims to: 

  • Raise awareness and provide information about grief.  
  • Recruit, train, and deploy ExtraCare residents to be bereavement supporters. 
  • Improve access to specialist bereavement and mental health support services.

This collaborative EU-funded project uses neuroscience and pharmaceutical drug discovery to treat aggregated conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and dementia.  

We will develop functional, 3D human stem cell-derived neural networks of defined and reproducible architecture, based on a brain cortical module that displays in vivo connectivity and activity.  

Visit the MESO-BRAIN website for more information. 


This research project will improve the care that frail older people receive in hospital settings and reduce functional decline, institutionalisation, further hospitalisation and death. 

Having completed an assessment of how hospitals currently identify and manage frail older patients in high-risk clinical settings such as emergency departments and major surgery wards, a model for integrated care is now in development using data from the observational phase. 

Visit the project website for more information. 


FRAILTOOLS is an EU-funded project. It will look at the management of older people who run the risk of disability, and its main contributing factor - frailty.  

Using data from this research, the project will create diagnostic tools for detecting frailty in older people more effectively.  

Visit the project website for more information.