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£70,000 funding boost for dementia research

Professor Patrick Kehoe

Press release issued: 3 September 2014

Scientists at the Universities of Bristol and Bath will come together to help defeat dementia, thanks to a new research network across the UK being funded by a leading dementia research charity.

Alzheimer’s Research UK will support 15 network centres of scientific excellence across the UK, including a centre that links researchers at Bristol and Bath.

The Bristol and Bath Research Network will benefit from £70,000 over two years, with continued support pledged for the coming years. The investment is part of the charity’s £100m Defeat Dementia fundraising campaign, announced in June by the Prime Minister.

With calls from the G8 Dementia Summit in December for increased collaboration in dementia research, the Alzheimer’s Research UK Research Network brings together scientists from a variety of disciplines, throughout the UK. Teams of scientists who would not normally encounter each other are able to pool their expertise in projects that span the length of the country.

Scientists in Bristol and Bath first established an Alzheimer’s Research UK Research Network Centre in 2000, and it has gone from strength to strength with researchers from the University of the West of England and the Research Institute for the Care of the Elderly joining over the years.

Now, with a membership of over 60 scientists, this fresh funding will provide new opportunities for cooperation between teams, allowing innovative ideas to be tested. The Network aims to support existing researchers as well as attracting new scientists to use their expertise to answer important questions in dementia.

Each Network Centre can use their funding to support local researchers through travel grants, equipment grants and by funding small pump-priming projects.

Scientists at the University of Bristol have been instrumental in contributing to important UK-wide studies, including a study into how blood pressure drugs can affect the progression of Alzheimer’s and using brain banks to understand the blood vessel changes that occur in dementia.

Professor Patrick Kehoe, from the School of Clinical Sciences at the University of Bristol, is the Network Co-ordinator of the Bristol and Bath Network Centre.

He said: “Our Network Centre is full of high-class dementia research, with scientists trying to find answers to a huge range of problems; from studying how some biochemical pathways stress brain cells at a cellular level to how reduced blood flow to the brain alters the progression of Alzheimer’s and how imaging regions of the brain associated with memory formation tell us more about normal memory and what goes wrong in dementia.

“This increased investment in the Bristol and Bath Network Centre allows us to learn from each other’s experiences and successes, to make sure we are answering the right questions that will really lead to a cure for dementia in the future.

“The great benefit of the Alzheimer’s Research UK Research Network is that it allows scientists to place their findings in the wider context of dementia research, and draw on other people’s expertise to make the journey from interesting idea to patient benefit that much easier.”

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