MRC funding boost to prepare for the UK Dementia Research Institute

Momentum awards worth £4.3 million announced by the Medical Research Council to prepare for the UK Dementia Research Institute.

Six universities have been awarded a total of £4.3m by the Medical Research Council (MRC) to grow the UK’s research base in dementia science in preparation for the UK Dementia Research Institute (DRI). Alzheimer’s Society, a founding charity partner of the DRI, welcomes the announcement as the first step towards making the Institute a reality.

The Momentum awards will open up new research avenues which could transform the potential of dementia research in the UK. Funding has been awarded to Cardiff University, Kings College London and the universities of Oxford, Manchester, Edinburgh and Bristol to develop the UK’s strength in key areas of research, including:

  • Using stem cells to model and understand neurodegenerative disease
  • Unravelling the complex role of the immune system in the development of dementia
  • Using novel computational approaches to analyse health-related behaviours at home

Each award will enhance overall dementia research capacity in the UK and, crucially, will accelerate the recruitment of research leaders and ‘rising stars’ from both within and outside of the UK.

The funding will also help current researchers develop promising connections between different research disciplines to bring new understanding to the field, as well as exploit emerging scientific opportunities and explore new approaches to fight the condition.

The UK Dementia Research Institute is being funded through a combined investment of £250m from the MRC and founding charity partners, the Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK. As well as innovative, discovery science, the Institute will fund research to improve care and public health strategies to reduce risk of dementia for future generations. Next year Alzheimer’s Society will fund new Centres of Excellence to strengthen the UK’s capacity and capability in dementia care research.

Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, said:

'For too long, dementia research has been underfunded and neglected. We welcome the announcement of these awards which will set a foundation for the bold, ambitious research to be supported by the Dementia Research Institute. Alzheimer’s Society is a proud founding partner of the Institute that will, as it takes shape over the coming months and years, find the answers we need to transform dementia care and take us towards a cure.'

Dr Rob Buckle, Director of science programmes at the MRC, said:

'The DRI will be the biggest single investment into dementia research the UK has ever seen and we are proud to start building the foundation for it now. These transformative awards will create exciting new opportunities across the dementia research landscape and provide impetus to allow the Institute to start making its mark as soon as it is launched.'