UCL awarded largest ever UK grant to investigate causes of Parkinson's
2 November 2009
UCL researchers have been awarded £5.3 million to investigate the causes of Parkinson's disease.
Parkinson's, a progressive neurological condition, affects movement such as walking, writing and talking. More than 100,000 people in the UK have the condition. With an ageing population, this figure will increase as Parkinson's normally affects the over-50s.
The funding from the Wellcome Trust and Medical Research Council has been awarded to a research team that brings together leading experts in brain disease from UCL's Institute of Neurology and the Royal Free Hospital, as well as involving groups from University of Dundee and University of Sheffield.
It is the biggest grant ever awarded for research into Parkinson's in the UK.
Professors John Hardy, Anthony Schapira and Nicholas Wood from the UCL Institute of Neurology will lead the research.
The research will investigate the earliest stages of Parkinson's to achieve a much greater understanding of the genes involved and to develop markers of early disease.
Patients from the Royal Free Hospital and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, UCLH, will be recruited for the research which starts in March next year.
Professor Nicholas Wood, principal investigator for the project, said: "This is a wonderful opportunity for researchers from UCLH, UCL and the Royal Free to work collaboratively to find out more about this debilitating condition. It's the first time that a research project has been designed to systematically use basic science to investigate people at risk of developing Parkinson's Disease. It is hoped that by addressing the earliest phase of the disease, opportunities for disease modification will be greatest."
The grant was one of three awarded by the Wellcome Trust and Medical Research Council for research into neurodegenerative disease out of 40 applications.
Professor Alan Thompson (Director of the UCL Institute of Neurology and Vice-Dean, UCL Faculty of Biomedicine) added: "This award provides a major impetus to our research into neurodegenerative disorders, which is a key element to the research strategy of the Institute of Neurology and UCL Neuroscience."
UCL Neuroscience brings together over 400 senior investigators who conduct world-leading work in seven themes that reflect the strength of neuroscience at UCL. UCL provides one of the best international environments to educate and train the next generation of research leaders and attract the best students. Uniquely in the UK, our basic neuroscience research can be translated into new ways of diagnosing and treating disease through our vibrant partnerships with three large Comprehensive and Specialist Biomedical Centres.