Prime minister backs dementia research 

26/03/2012 00:00 

Prime Minister David Cameron visited the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (NHNN) on the morning that the government announced dementia research funding will be doubled to £66 million by 2015.

Professor Martin Rossor, Prime Minister David Cameron and patient David Hague

The Prime Minister said it was ‘a great honour’ to see at first-hand how the Trust collaborates closely with UCL on what he later described as ‘one of the greatest challenges of our time.’

He gave his backing to the Alzheimer Society’s landmark report Dementia 2012: A National Challenge which explores how well people are living with dementia in 2012 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Before attending the Alzheimer Society conference where he described the issue of dementia as a ‘national crisis’, the prime minister visited the dementia MR scanner at the NHNN and then the Dementia Research Centre, directly opposite the hospital.

The NHNN and UCL have benefited from considerable funding grants in the past 12 months which will accelerate the development of treatments and identify future therapeutic targets for neurodegenerative diseases, with the aim of earlier intervention for patients.

Professor Martin Rossor, honorary consultant neurologist at the NHNN and Professor of clinical neurology at UCL, said: “Research into dementia requires investment across the whole spectrum from basic science to policy research. The research groups at the NHNN and UCL are particularly focussed on early phase research and experimental medicine.

Prime Minister David Cameron, Sir Robert Naylor and Professor Nick Fox

“We were pleased to welcome the prime minister to tell him more about our research and it is excellent that the government has pledged more money for this area of research, which is so desperately needed.”

Sir Robert Naylor, UCLH chief executive, said: “I was delighted to see the Prime Minister’s interest in dementia, perhaps the least understood medical challenge facing the NHS. He was particularly impressed with the superb MR diagnostic capabilities and was interested to hear of our world-leading research into neurodegeneration and our phase 1 clinical trial partnership with the pharmaceutical industry.”

Patient David Hague, who has been part of a research trial into dementia at the NHNN, spent some time telling the Prime Minister about living with dementia.

Mr Hague said: “We discussed my treatment and it was very nice to meet him. He seemed genuinely interested and knowledgeable.”

In his speech at the Alzheimer’s Society annual conference shortly after he left the NHNN, the prime minister said: "We've got to treat this like the national crisis it is. We need an all-out fightback against this disease, one that cuts across society. This is a personal priority of mine, and it's got an ambition to match. That ambition – nothing less than for Britain to be a world leader in dementia research and care."


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