New dementia research unit for Cambridge, Huppert learns

15 June, 2012 No Comments

A new dementia research unit at Cambridge University is to share in millions of pounds worth of government investment, the city’s MP Julian Huppert has learnt.

From April, the new National Institute for Health biomedical research unit will receive a share of the funding for dementia research which is expected to reach over £66 million by 2015.

Health Minister, Paul Burstow revealed the plans to Julian in answer to a written question on how funding under the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge would be allocated over the next three years.

Mr Burstow told him: “The combined value of the National Institute for Health Research, Medical Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council funding for research into dementia will increase from £26.6. million in 2009-10 to an estimated £66.3 million in 2014-15.

“Expenditure on dementia research over the next three years will support a range of research activity.”

And he added that Cambridge University would benefit along with Newcastle University, the King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry and University College London.

These research units which include dementia themed research will share their considerable resources and world leading expertise to improve treatment and care, Mr Burstow added.

Julian said: “This is excellent news. I am delighted the government has made a strong commitment to dementia research and the fact that one of the research units is to be based in Cambridge is testament to the world class expertise we have in our city.”

In separate questions Julian also quizzed the government on its commitment to innovative brain scanning to detect early signs of the disease.

Julian raised his written questions with Science Minister, David Willetts who told him plans for the brain imaging programme were being developed by the long-term research study UK Biobank. They include a pilot with up to 8,000 volunteers which, if successful could be rolled out to up to 100,000 volunteers.

He said: “Proposals for the brain imaging programme are currently being developed by UK Biobank and will be subject to rigorous peer review. The precise scope of the study funded will be advised by this process and the views of the international experts involved.”

Mr Willetts also confirmed that the Medical Research Council spent £18.5 million on dementia research last year.

Later Julian said: “This disease has devastating effects not only for those affected but for their families.

“We cannot hope to find successful treatments and hopefully ultimately a cure for dementia without a high level of investment. I am particularly pleased to hear about the brain scanning pilot study. If we can find out more about the early stages of this disease and how it alters the brain, we have the chance to treat people before their illness has advanced to a point where they are severely debilitated. This has huge benefits for everyone.” 

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