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Thirteen new bright sparks – University of Reading

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Thirteen new bright sparks

Release Date 28 November 2005

man sitting downAs the UK's population gets older, research into ageing is becoming increasingly important. This vital research area has now received a welcome boost with the provision of funding for 13 new researchers by SPARC, short for Strategic Promotion of Ageing Research Capacity. SPARC is a pioneering scheme established and funded by the EPSRC and the BBSRC and run by academics at the Universities of Reading and Brighton. Established earlier this year, SPARC aims to encourage more young researchers to take an interest in the needs of older people and an ageing population. The 13 new researchers will soon commence projects in the diverse fields of driver behaviour, transport planning, security in urban environments, housing design, packaging, exercise, cell ageing and neurology. In addition the researchers will receive support from the research community, including mentoring, assistance in promoting their work and establishing themselves in the field, and the goodwill of many older people and organisations which work with and represent older people. Professor Peter Lansley, who leads SPARC and is a researcher at Reading's School of Construction Management & Engineering, said: "In its first call for research proposals, SPARC received 85 ideas from young and not-so-young budding ageing researchers. That's a very strong response and it underlines the reasons for SPARC's existence – that there are many researchers who are keen to exploit science and technology to benefit the quality of life of older people. "SPARC is already attracting new blood to this research, and we hope to build the capacity and capability for ageing research in the UK, benefiting current and future generations of older people." SPARC has had a busy and successful first year. As well as the appointment of the 13 researchers, SPARC has run five national workshops showcasing ageing research from across design, engineering and biology, involving researchers, practitioners and older people, and a landmark international workshop bringing together world-leading experts on Werners' Syndrome organised by SPARC Co-director Dr Richard Faragher of Brighton University. And there's more to be done before the year is out. SPARC has already announced its second call for proposals, with the aim of supporting more budding ageing researchers Coming up on Wednesday 14 December is workshop called the Biology and Business of Stroke hosted by Thames Valley Life Sciences Network (TVLSN), for which the only attendance fee is an enthusiasm for improving the quality of life of older people. For more details see or contact the directors of SPARC: Professor Peter Lansley, E: T: 0118 378 8202 Dr Richard Faragher, E: T: 01273 642124 end Notes for editors For media enquiries, please contact Craig Hillsley, the University of Reading press officer: Tel: 0118 378 7388 Email:

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