Our impact

Since 1971, we have supported research into the causes, treatment, prevention and cure of neurological conditions. We have provided funding of more than £50 million for research into a wide range of neurological disorders.

How we ensure that our research has impact

Our aim is to improve the lives of those affected by neurological conditions - to help them live better, longer. This is the impact that we want to achieve - to enable scientific and medical advances that will improve the lives of those living with neurological conditions, extend survival in diseases that reduce life-expectancy and, ultimately, will cure and even prevent these conditions.

When evaluating grant applications, the members of our Scientific Advisory Panel consider the impact that the proposed research could have. Applications are compared side-by-side to determine which research has the best chance of delivering impact in the short- to medium- term for people with neurological conditions.

Our three current priority areas - set out below - were selected on the basis that they were areas in which we felt we could have maximum impact, being areas of high patient need combined with low current research investment.

Brain tumours

Despite decades of progress and improving survival in many other types of cancer, little progress has been made in brain tumours. Glioblastoma – the most common primary brain cancer - still has no effective treatment, and most patients die within a year of diagnosis.  

We are funding research to improve the outlook for people with brain tumours by advancing understanding of the mechanisms underlying tumour development, and helping develop better ways to diagnose and treat these tumours.

Since 2016 we have invested funds of more than £3.7 million in research into brain tumours – in seven PhD studentships, ten project grants and four post-doctoral fellowships.

You can read about these projects here, including encouraging results from project grant holder Professor Chris Jones, revealing a promising new combination treatment for children with the deadly brain tumour DIPG.

Brain and spinal cord injury

Our aim under this theme is to improve recovery in people who have suffered an injury to their brain or spinal cord – including traumatic injuries from accidents, assaults and falls, and non-traumatic injuries such as strokes.

The impact of an injury varies enormously from person to person, depending on the nature, severity and location of the injury, as well as the treatment and rehabilitation undertaken. The range of problems is huge and includes impaired movement, cognitive impairment, communication difficulties, emotional issues, fatigue, headaches and pain.

We are funding research to advance understanding of how to repair the brain and spinal cord, to improve the outlook for those affected by these kinds of injuries.

Since 2016, we have invested funds of £4.3 million in research in 12 project grants and four PhD studentships focused on brain and spinal cord injury; you can read about this research here.

Headache and facial pain

Headache has been described as the most common medical complaint known to man. There are hundreds of different types of headache and facial pain disorders and, due to their prevalence, they are responsible for almost three quarters of neurological-related disability. New treatment approaches are desperately needed, but a lack of research investment has hampered progress.

We are funding research into disorders such as migraine and cluster headache to improve understanding of the underlying causes of these debilitating conditions, towards the development of better preventive and treatment approaches.

 Since 2016 we have invested funds of more than £1.6 million in four project grants and five PhD students. You can read about this research here.

Reporting our research impact

When we fund a research project, we are investing in the anticipated outputs and outcomes. We use external reviewers, as well as the expertise of our own Scientific Advisory Panel, to help determine how likely it is that the applicant will achieve the aims set out in their research proposal.

There are no guarantees that the research teams will achieve their aims - they are testing hypotheses, and these are not always proved right. This is the nature of science. But research always tells us something, it might not take us where we want to go, it might simply close a door, but that in itself is progress. What is important is that the research is high quality - so that the results are trusted, and that the results are shared - so that others can learn from the research.

When research does succeed, it usually puts in place a piece of a larger puzzle, building on a body of work that has gone before, and edging knowledge one step further - towards patient benefit.

By targeting our funding and investing in people, we are building capacity in the field so that the pace of change increases and we can make a difference to those living with neurological conditions sooner.

With your help, we are making progress.