University opens research centre to tackle dementia ‘time-bomb’ and serve local community
Release Date 08 January 2014
A new research centre that aims to improve the detection and prevention of dementia, as well as support those affected by the disease, opened today (Wednesday 8 Jan).
The Berkshire Memory & Cognition Research Centre (BMCRC) is a joint initiative between the University of Reading and the Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. The Centre will allow experts to conduct crucial research including how diet and lifestyle can affect dementia, as well as the impact of the disease on carers and their families. In addition the Centre will run clinical trials offering access to possible new treatments and interventions.
Dementia affects 44 million people worldwide. In the Thames Valley today, more than 1% of the population have dementia with the lives of many more affected by the disease. In December, leading nations committed to developing a cure or treatment for dementia by 2025 at the G8 dementia summit.
The new Centre is situated in the University's School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences. It brings together the collective expertise of clinicians, scientists, businesses and charities across the Thames Valley who will have access to some of the very best neuroimaging and clinical research facilities available in the UK today.
The Centre also includes a newly refurbished waiting area, clinic room, two offices and a consultation room, staffed initially by a psychiatrist, two research nurses and one research assistant.
Dr Laurie Butler, Head of the University of Reading's School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, Dr Justin Wilson, Medical Director of BHNFT and Dr Paul Loughlin, Consultant Psychiatrist in Old Age and Lead for Dementia Research at BHNFT, joined Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading Sir David Bell in cutting the ribbon to officially open the Centre.
Dr Butler said: "Dementia is an incurable disease and ultimately leaves people needing full-time care as brain function wastes away. With the number of those affected by dementia set to triple over the next 30 years it is vital we find new ways of detecting and preventing this devastating disease.
"The aims of this new Centre feed directly into the recent call from world leaders for a concerted effort in tackling dementia. It will allow us to continue and expand our renowned research in areas such as the positive effects of nutrition on cognition. Recent research from Reading has shown that that consuming foodstuffs such as blueberries could help delay the onset of degenerative brain disorders such as dementia.
As well as the financial strain (£370bn currently worldwide and £23bn in the UK alone), the effects of the disease on patients, carers and their families are devastating.
Dr Justin Wilson said: "Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is delighted to be supporting the development of this research centre in collaboration with the University of Reading. This is an exciting opportunity to work together to improve care for people with dementia and contribute to the evidence base for dementia prevention and treatment. This initiative has the potential to have a really positive impact for families within Berkshire and beyond.
"The Trust has an excellent network of older people's mental health clinicians and has developed enhanced memory clinics and home treatment teams across the county, as well as a new dedicated dementia ward at Prospect Park Hospital and high quality dementia liaison services at the Royal Berkshire Hospital. These will link in with this new research hub. We will be able to expand our involvement with research studies, working closely with the Dementias & Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Network (DeNDRoN) and with the Oxford Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) as well as with Local Authorities, Clinical Commissioning Groups and life sciences industry partners to demonstrate and deliver best care."
The opening of the Berkshire Memory & Cognition Research Centre means the University's School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences enjoys a unique partnership with the Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. BMCRC is the fourth Trust partnership based at the University, joining the Charlie Waller Institute of Evidence-Based Psychological Treatments, Berkshire Child Anxiety Clinic and the Speech & Language Therapy Clinic.
Dr Laurie Butler added: "We are proud to have such a close relationship with the Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. Our work with the Trust enables us to conduct research that makes a real difference to the lives of people in the region and across the globe."