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Funding doubles for UK dementia research

Prime Minister David Cameron aims to make UK a world leader with £66m investment

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has committed to more than double investment in dementia research in the UK to £66m.

The combined value of funding for National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Medical Research Council (MRC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) will increase over the next three years from its current level of under £30m.

Chief medical officer at the UK's Department of Health, Professor Dame Sally Davies commented on Cameron's announcement: “The UK is a world leader in dementia research. This significant funding boost will allow us to push ahead with a comprehensive programme to increase the volume of dementia research.

“This will accelerate the identification of causes, cures and better ways of caring for a disease that is such a burden on patients, carers and society.

The extra investment includes £13m for social science research on dementia, as well as £36m over the next five years for a new NIHR dementia translational research collaboration, which the government says will 'pull discoveries into real benefits for patients'.

As part of this investment, four new NIHR biomedical research units in dementia will share resources and expertise to improve treatment and care with biomedical research, which includes dementia-themed research.

The government is also aiming to improve levels of public engagement in dementia research to levels similar to those seen in cancer by encouraging investigators to offer more opportunities for people with dementia to be involved in research.

As well, there will be major investment in brain scanning, with the MRC making an additional investment in the system using the BioBank – a long-term global study involving over 500,000 people investigating the effect of genetic factors on aging, including dementia.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: “Dementia is one of the biggest challenges we face as a society and we are determined to transform the quality of dementia care for patients and their families.

“In England today there are an estimated 670,000 people living with dementia, a number that is increasing, with one in three people set to develop dementia in the future.”

Shirley Cramer, chief executive of Alzheimer's Research UK was also pleased with the news, saying it was a “turning point in our battle to defeat dementia”.

She continued: “The way we care for people with dementia today will be the test of how compassionate a society we really are, but the long term answer to dementia lies in research. UK dementia scientists lead the world in terms of research quality and impact. With increased funds, our researchers will deliver the answers.”

27th March 2012

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