New dementia and neurodegeneration Policy Research Unit for Exeter as part of £100m funding 

A new Policy Research Unit (PRU) at the University of Exeter specialising in dementia and neurodegeneration will begin work in January 2024 after receiving funding. 

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) has awarded over £100-million as part of their Policy Research Programme to 20 university based PRUs across England, to tackle important long-standing and emerging health and social care issues.  

The PRU at Exeter will seek to inform policy in the areas of dementia and neurodegeneration by bringing together a multidisciplinary team of researchers from collaborating institutions – including University of Bradford, Newcastle University, London School of Economics and Political Science, and University of New South Wales – to create a critical mass of leading experts. 

Professor of Clinical Psychology of Ageing and Dementia at the University of Exeter, Linda Clare, will be the Director of the new PRU and said: “We know that the number of people living with dementia and other neurodegenerative conditions will increase over the coming years as our population ages. It is also likely that the length of time people live with these conditions will increase as treatments improve and they deserve the best quality of life possible. It is therefore essential that our policy making in these areas is underpinned by robust data and evidence to ensure that the health and care system is best equipped to meet the challenges ahead and continue to provide the support needed in an efficient and compassionate way. The Policy Research Unit brings together a team of world leading researchers in dementia and neurodegeneration and will ensure policy is based on the latest evidence.” 

Exeter’s PRU is among the newly commissioned units and will receive £3-million during the contract, which runs until 2028. The PRU will play a vital role in making sure the government and arm’s length bodies have the best possible information and evidence available when making policy decisions about health and social care. 

NIHR is funding these PRUs to address emerging issues for the health and social care systems and support strategic priorities. 

Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Scientific Advisor DHSC and Chief Executive of NIHR, said: “In the NIHR, we have a range of ways to make sure that health and care research benefits patients and the public. The NIHR’s new Policy Research Units are designed to provide strong evaluation of policy. This helps government and related organisations to be able to act on the latest evidence when making decisions about health and social care that could impact us all.” 

Women’s Health Strategy Minister Maria Caulfield said: “We’re investing £100-million into 20 new research hubs that will bring together key experts to tackle a range of issues including end of life care, addictions, dementia, and neurodegeneration. 

“As part of the Women’s Health Strategy, we promised more research would be done to improve understanding and treatments for women’s health issues – today we’re delivering a new unit looking specifically into reproductive health.”