Faculty of Medical Sciences

Advancing Dementia Research

Advancing Dementia Research

As a long-term carer, Elisabeth Pestell has seen the debilitating effects of dementia first-hand, and understands the life-changing importance of research.

Elisabeth Pestell was born and brought up in Newcastle. Her interest in research into ageing diseases was ignited after seeing a TV programme celebrating the work of researchers at Newcastle’s Institute for Ageing and Health. Elisabeth’s mother suffered from Parkinson’s dementia, and her husband Gordon is now struggling with vascular dementia.

As a long-term carer, she has seen first-hand how these diseases can debilitate loved ones “it's a heart-breaking struggle for my husband on a daily basis, and I have always been determined to help him retain his self-worth as we work with the doctors to understand more about his condition.”

Elizabeth was so inspired by the work of Newcastle University researchers that she set up a scholarship to support early stage researchers working on ageing diseases.

"It gives me great pleasure to donate because I am fascinated by the science. New research is essential to further understand disease in older age and I believe we will see the benefits very soon: there are great challenges ahead in tackling ageing and, for me, the younger generation are our future.”

Professor David Burn has dedicated his career to understanding more about how we age, and is currently researching earlier identifiers in diseases such as Parkinson’s and dementia.

He says: "An early diagnosis is crucial if doctors are to prescribe the right drugs for people with the illness to help them control their symptoms. The next stage is for us to develop interventions which will help manage and potentially reverse the disease.

"In the past ten years, we have built one of the world’s leading centres for research into age-related disease and I believe that with increased support we will develop a first for the UK which will be a centre for clinicians, scientists and our large patient cohorts to working together on solving the problems associated with diseases which are linked to brain function.”

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