University professor backs Alzheimer’s charity

by Sarah Bartlett

Cardiff professor Julie Williams, one of the leading dementia research scientists in the UK, has joined Alzheimer’s Research UK in a bid to increase the number of scientists researching the disease.

A report has been issued to the House of Commons, which warns that unless more effort is put in to encourage scientists in this field, the UK could lose its prolific dementia knowledge base.

Williams is Professor of Psychological Medicine at Cardiff University’s School of Medicine and Chief Scientific Adviser to Alzheimer’s Research UK. She has produced vital findings identifying new Alzheimer’s risk genes and will be a member of the panel at the launch of the report entitled ‘Defeating Dementia’, along with Alzheimer’s Research UK patron Sir Terry Pratchett.

The report includes 14 recommendations to the Government and all research funders to help boost capacity, as well as creating a research environment better suited to the challenge posed by dementia.

As the population continues to live longer, dementia has become more widespread, and nearly one million people now have the disease. This costs the economy over £23 billion, however current treatments available only alleviate some symptoms.

Pressure is mounting on researchers to find new drugs, preventions and better diagnosis, however a lack of investment in this area means that dementia research is undermanned and underfunded.

Alzheimer’s Research UK have suggested that a national strategy should be put in place to ring-fence funding of dementia research. They also believe that there ought to be greater flexibility and a simplification of funding applications, as unnecessary red-tape often reduces the amount of time spent on productive research.

Professor Williams said: “Investing in our high-achieving UK scientists is the only answer. It is clear from this report that we do not have enough scientists working in the dementia field to meet the colossal challenge it poses to society.”

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