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Learning how the USA tackles neuro research: UK–USA Partnership Symposium kicks off today

22 Mar 2018

Early career researchers from some of the largest MRC-funded dementia programmes will present the results of their state-side collaborations in the MRC-NIH Partnering Award Symposium in Washington DC today. 

The MRC–NIH Neurodegeneration Partnering Awards, launched last year, are supported by the Government’s Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and focus on developing new collaborations and strengthening existing partnerships between UK researchers and US research groups at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Symposium will showcase key infrastructures and resources in the UK and the US and share expertise between researchers.

Neurodegenerative diseases are incurable conditions in which nerve cells gradually degenerate for reasons that are not yet fully understood. There are many neurodegenerative diseases – such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, motor neurone disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob (prion) disease. Many of these give rise to dementia, which represents a major and growing public health burden.

Around 50 million people live with dementia today – with one new case every three seconds –  and this number is set to almost double every 20 years. Dementia has higher health and social care costs than cancer and chronic heart disease combined. If global dementia care were a country, it would be the eighteenth largest economy in the world, exceeding the market values of companies such as Apple and Google.

Neurodegenerative diseases know no geographical boundaries and the complexity of these conditions makes the research effort particularly challenging. Collaboration across disciplines and across countries will hold the key to better prevention, treatment and care of those living with these diseases.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), is a part of the US Department of Health and Human Services, and is the USA’s medical research agency. The MRC Award winners will be visiting labs and talking to leading researchers at the NIH’s Institute of Aging (NIA) and NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and will focus on analysing UK/USA data, research methods and brain imaging.

  • Dr Rozanna Meijboom, from the UK Dementias Research Institute at the University of Edinburgh will be visiting Professor Daniel Reich’s lab at NINDS to analyse MRI scans of how brain abnormalities in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) might give us insight into dementia.
  • Dr Chi-Hun Kim from the Dementias Platform UK at the University of Oxford will be working with Dr Lenore Launer and her team of researchers from the NIA to analyse the impact of vascular factors (eg, high blood pressure) on the development of dementia using data from both the UK and the USA.
  • Dr Ivan Koychev from the Dementias Platform UK at the University of Oxford will be based at Dr Susan Resnick’s lab at the NIA where he will be at looking genetic and other data from large USA population studies to help build a picture of what changes happen to the brain even before someone shows symptoms of dementia.

Read about the aims of this year’s awardees on our Insight blog.

Dr Kate Adcock, Head of Neurosciences and Mental Health at the Medical Research Council said: “The MRC oils the wheels of international collaboration. We want to bring researchers together from across the world to share ideas and expertise in neurodegenerative research and we hope this scheme will be just the start of some very fruitful, long term research partnerships. It’s crucial that early career researchers receive the support and opportunities that develop their long term scientific interests and careers. We hope that opportunities supported by the MRC will pave the way to discoveries that make a real impact to those people living with neurodegenerative diseases.”

Sam Gyimah, Minister for Science said: “Diseases such as dementia have a huge impact for both the individual and their families, and discovering new treatments requires an international effort. As part of our Ageing Society Grand Challenge, a major commitment in our modern Industrial Strategy, we are determined to work together with countries like the USA to find better treatments, and one day ways to prevent these serious conditions.

“Through our Industrial Strategy we are also increasing investment in R&D by £7 billion to 2022. Through this record investment we will ensure that our science community has the support it needs to continue its work in developing the treatments of tomorrow and improve the lives of people across the world.” 

Applications for 2018/2019 MRC NIH Neurodegeneration Partnering Awards are now open for those employed on a currently active MRC grant. For terms and conditions please visit MRC NIH Neurodegeneration Partnering Awards. The total amount available for this call is £135,000 with a maximum total per individual of £15,000. The closing date is 16:00 on 5 April 2018.


  • Categories: Funding
  • Health categories: Neurological
  • Locations: Edinburgh, London, Oxford, Other
  • Type: News article