After a tour of the facilities, Andrew Lansley said: “I’m delighted to see for myself this very high-quality research carried out on the Campus for Ageing and Vitality. We are looking to Newcastle to give us, in translational research, the answers in terms of care and treatment of older patients.”
The ministerial visit comes after Newcastle University and the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust were awarded £21 million from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
The existing Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) will receive £16.6 million over the next five years - double its current funding. The extra cash will be used to help improve treatments of a broad range of ageing-related disease.
As a result of a successful joint bid by the Trust and the University to the Health Secretary £4.5 million will fund a new Biomedical Research Unit, which will carry out research into dementia, specifically Dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s disease with dementia.
Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley added: “I was told the presentation from Newcastle was inspirational and that’s reflected in the five year funding – literally doubling it. It’s recognition of the central priority of understanding the problems of ageing.”
Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Medical Sciences at Newcastle University, Professor Chris Day said: "The visit by the minister was a chance to demonstrate the important work we are carrying out and underlines the importance of the funding which will contribute significantly to improving our understanding of age-related diseases and their treatment.
“Meeting with some of the patients, clinical staff and researchers who help keep Newcastle at the international forefront of ageing research, he heard first-hand how we are already improving the quality of life for people with conditions which are common in the older person.
“As he saw, our existing research centre has already used NIHR support to great effect in improving the diagnosis and treatment of several diseases. For example, we have pioneered new treatments for scarring of the cornea, using novel transplantation techniques, and utilised our imaging and brain bank resources to improve the diagnosis of people with different forms of dementia. Additionally, funding has been key to developing our training and personal development programmes in ageing and age-related diseases, thus expanding the capacity of Newcastle and the UK in general to undertake high quality work in this area.
"In conjunction with our world-class research facilities and internationally recognised investigators, the increasing level of support from the NIHR will enable our clinicians and scientists to maximise the impact for patient benefit by ensuring that basic scientific steps become significant clinical discoveries.
"The success of our bid to open the new Biomedical Research Unit reflects the strength of the relationship that we enjoy with our NHS partners."
Sir Leonard Fenwick, Chief Executive of the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: "This is a vote of confidence in the tremendous work that goes on in the region. The remarkable achievement in bringing about the Campus for Ageing and Vitality and the strength of the partnership between the Trust and the University has been recognised by the Government. Over the next few years the site will generate hundreds of jobs for the region with associated spin-off opportunities."
Prime Minister, David Cameron said: "This unprecedented investment into the development of innovative medicines and treatments will have a huge impact on the care and services patients receive and help develop the modern, world-class health service patients’ deserve.
"A strong competitive science and research base is a crucial part of securing sustainable economic growth and creating jobs of the future, and we have some of the best scientists and facilities in the world. This investment will help ensure we continue to be at the cutting edge."
A video demonstrating the vision of the Biomedical Research Centre can be viewed here.
Picture shows Health Secretary Andrew Lansley with Professor Chris Day.
published on: 19th August 2011