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Professor Dame Sally C. Davies, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department of Health, today (21 March 2013) opened a new research facility in Oxford which will speed the development of effective treatments for dementia, mental health and neurological conditions.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Oxford cognitive health Clinical Research Facility (CRF) will enable clinical studies of the size and quality required to translate important scientific advances into benefits for patients.

There are estimated to be around 800,000 people with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to over 1 million by 2021. There are around 150,000 new stroke cases a year and 1 in 4 British adults are thought to experience at least one diagnosable mental health problem in any one year, with anxiety and depression being the most common. New and improved treatments and therapies are a great clinical need in these areas.

The CRF is funded by a £3.75 million award from the National Institute for Health Research and is part of a strategic investment by the University of Oxford, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust.

The CRF brings together a number of research units across three sites in the city. It includes two units in Oxford University’s Department of Experimental Psychology on South Parks Road (the Oxford Centre for Anxiety Disorders and Trauma and the Oxford Cognitive Neuropsychology Centre); the Clinical Research Facility at the Warneford Hospital (Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust); and the Charles Wolfson Clinical Neuroscience Facility in the West Wing of the John Radcliffe Hospital (Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust). 

The NIHR award will fund the necessary recurrent NHS infrastructure costs of the CRF such as clinical research nurses, psychologists, and pharmacy support.

Professor John Geddes, who heads the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford and will lead the new CRF, said: ‘Oxford is in a unique position in the UK, bringing together Oxford University’s world-class strengths in neuroscience and clinical trials with dedicated, high quality clinical care provided through the two NHS Trusts.’  

Professor Dame C. Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department of Health said: 

“Cognitive health is a really important area for research because it affects large numbers of people, and includes conditions such as dementia, communication impairments in children, social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, schizophrenia and stroke.

“These are precisely the types of challenging areas supported through the National Institute for Health Research Oxford cognitive health Clinical Research Facility. Effective therapies and preventive strategies need the best experimental medicine researchers and clinical scientists to be able to work together, and the facilities and team at Oxford are well-placed to support advances in treatments for thousands of people.”

The opening of the CRF coincides with major investment in clinical neuroscience at the University of Oxford, including recent large awards from the Wolfson Foundation (Centre for Prevention of Stroke & Dementia) and the Wellcome Trust (the University of Oxford Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute and strategic award for Integrated Multimodal Brain Imaging for Neuroscience Research and Clinical Practice).

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