Our impact

Since 1971, Brain Research UK has supported research into the causes, treatment, prevention and cure of neurological conditions. We have provided funding of more than £50 million for research into many different conditions including Alzheimer's disease and dementia, brain tumours, multiple sclerosis, stroke, Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, motor neurone disease, headache, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and brain and spinal cord injury.

How we ensure that our research has impact

Our aim is to improve the lives of those affected by neurological conditions - to help people live better, longer.

In order to achieve the greatest impact, we need to make sure that the work we fund is of the highest standard.

The members of our Scientific Advisory Panel enlist the help of others with expertise in fields relevant to each grant application to help determine whether the team proposing the research will be able to do what they say they are going to do, whether they have the necessary skills and experience, and whether the experiments will be well-planned and executed to decisively prove or disprove the hypothesis.

Panel members consider the impact that the research could have, if successfully carried out - i.e. what difference will this research actually make to those living with the neurological condition being investigated? 

The applications are compared side by side to determine which have the best chance of delivering impact in the short- to medium- term for people with neurological conditions. And we fund as many of those as we can afford.

We carefully monitor the progress of the research we are funding. Grant-holders are required to submit annual reports outlining progress against their objectives and reporting on key outcomes. And to get a better picture of outcomes and impacts, we are looking beyond the period of the grants to see where the research leads in the longer term.

Reporting our research impact

Research takes time. Change does not come about as the result of a single research project, but hundreds of experiments, tests, re-tests, questioning and refining.

When we fund a research project, we are funding one piece of a larger puzzle, building on a large body of work that has gone before, and edging knowledge one step further.

By targeting our funding and investing in people, we are building capacity in the field so that the pace of chance increases and we can make a difference sooner to those living with neurological conditions. We have funded more than 80 PhD students since 1971, as well as dozens of other vital research posts.

Ultimately the impact that we want to achieve through the research we are funding is the development of a new treatment or innovation that will improve and extend the lives of those with neurological conditions. With your help, we are making progress.

Impact example: optimising the use of deep brain stimulation

Ludvic Zrinzo is a Consultant Neurosurgeon at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery at Queen Square in London and Professor of Neurosurgery at UCL Institute of Neurology. He carries out a procedure known as deep brain stimulation (DBS), which can help alleviate symptoms in patients with a number of neurological conditions.

Professsor Zrinzo leads a programme of research to develop and refine the use of DBS, in particular through the development and use of magnetic resonance imaging techniques to improve the efficacy of DBS through more accurate placement of electrodes.

We have contributed around £750,000 to an ongoing programme of research that has led to real, demonstrable patient impact in the short-term, as this research has led tothrough evidence-based change in practice as the team have developed and refined their use of DBS, improving safety, results, and patient comfort.

This ongoing research is making DBS safer for those undergoing the procedure by enabling the surgeons to place the electrodes correctly at the first attempt, avoiding the need to make multiple surgical passes through the brain. This also speeds up the surgery, helping to reduce waiting lists so that more patients can be treated.

It is making the procedure more effective by determining the best position for the electrodes in different patients.

It is making the procedure easier for patients by removing the need for them to be awake during surgery.

It is opening up the procedure to a wider range of patients by demonstrating success in relieving the symptoms of conditions such as cluster headache and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Read more: Professor Ludvic Zrinzo