New £3 million research unit seeks to tackle dementia

Funded by a £3 million grant from The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), the DeNPRU will produce research on prevention, diagnosis and treatment, care service, and workforce needs.

Work will commence in January 2024, under co-directors Professors Claudia Cooper (QMUL) and Sube Banerjee (University of Plymouth).

Around 885,000 people in the UK live with dementia. Without major change in availability of preventive strategies, this number is expected to double within 25 years. The costs of dementia in the UK, currently mostly attributable to social care, will also increase - from £23 billion in 2015 to an estimated £80.1 billion in 2040.

The new unit will work with policymakers to produce research to answer four key questions on dementia and neurodegenerative disease:

  • How policy can help prevent these diseases by addressing risk factors.
  • How to improve people's experience of a diagnosis and ensure good quality ongoing care for everyone.
  • How technology and the way services are provided can support everyone with these diseases to receive care designed to meet individual needs.
  • How to build a workforce with the right skills and positive attitudes towards people with these diseases.

For each question the team will address how to deliver fairer, inclusive services to reduce inequalities, how social care can support people to live the lives they want to lead beyond medical care, how to conduct research serving all communities, including involving those with lived experience, and how to provide the best value for patients and society.

The DeNPRU team includes collaborating researchers from University College London, Exeter, Newcastle, Plymouth, Liverpool, and York Universities, Meri Yaadain CiC, Dementia UK and Neurological Alliance. The Alzheimer's Society is working in partnership with the team.

This group draws on broad experience in deprived inner city and coastal areas in NE, NW, SW England and East London.

Co-Director Claudia Cooper, Professor of Psychological Medicine at QMUL said:

'I am excited that QMUL is co-leading with University of Plymouth this national partnership across academic, clinical and lived experience organizations, with its ambitious commitment to drive up the quality of prevention, treatment and care services across dementia and neurodegenerative diseases. We will work with DHSC to build the evidence base policymakers need to drive more integrated, equitable, user-focused services. We will look especially at how services can be developed so that groups they currently serve less well can benefit equitably from scientific advances.'

Co-Director Sube Banerjee, Professor of Dementia at University of Plymouth said:

'It is brilliant that the Department of Health and Social Care has commissioned our Policy Research Unit to help it develop and deliver the better care for people with dementia other neurodegenerative disorders that is so desperately needed. It is a privilege to co-lead, with Claudia and QMUL, our national network of researchers and clinicians, but above all people with lived experience of these illnesses. Together we can help make policy and services that can transform patient experience, delivering better treatment and support and improving outcomes for all.'

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