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£1.1 million new research funding

Professor Peter McNaughton, King's College London, is one of the recipients of new Brain Research UK project grants

We are pleased to announce the recent award of four exciting new project grants in our priority research areas.

Our research grants are awarded through openly advertised, competitive calls in which we invite applications within a defined remit. These are reviewed by the members of our Scientific Advisory Panel, who seek advice from dozens of leading experts to help select the best, most promising applications for funding.  

The four new projects have been selected on the basis that they will each make an important contribution to knowledge in one of our key priority areas and, crucially, have demonstrated how this knowledge will translate to patient benefit.

Our research priorities

There are hundreds of neurological conditions. In order to maximise our impact, we are currently focusing our research funding on three priority areas: acquired brain and spinal cord injury, brain tumours, and headache and facial pain. These are areas where we have identified a large unmet patient need and a lack of current research investment. Find out more about these priority areas.

We were pleased to award funding to four outstanding projects across these three key research areas. The total cost of these projects is £1.1 million, all of which has been raised through voluntary donations.

The search for new treatments for the childhood brainstem tumour, DIPG

Professor Chris Jones, of the Institute of Cancer Research in London, is working towards a cure for the devastating childhood brain tumour DIPG.

DIPG develops in the brain stem, mainly presenting in children aged five to 10 years. There is no cure and most children die within 18 months of diagnosis.

With our funding, Prof Jones is building on a previous body of work that has identified a key genetic mutation in DIPG tumours. The aim is to find a drug that will target this mutation and kill the tumour cells.

“The community of researchers, clinicians, foundations and families that are committed to DIPG is truly inspiring and together has driven the field forward to an incredible degree since we first started working in this area. Our understanding has come on leaps and bounds and I believe we are on the cusp of finally making a difference to children with this terrible disease.” Professor Chris Jones.

Read more: Professor Chris Jones

Why do some patients regain function after stroke whilst others do not?

Professor Nick Ward, of UCL Institute of Neurology, was awarded funding for research that sets out to explain different recovery trajectories between stroke patients.

Stroke is the commonest form of brain injury and one of the commonest causes of disability worldwide. Some patients with initially severe impairments recover quickly, whilst others do not recover.

Prof Ward will use neuroimaging to determine whether these different trajectories can be explained by differences in patterns of anatomical brain damage and early post-stroke brain repair mechanisms. This will help determine treatment pathways for individual patients, to enable them to make the best recovery.

“This funding will allow us to start this work for the first time anywhere in the world. Despite the fact that stroke is the commonest cause of disability from a neurological problem, it is a neglected area. Brain Research UK’s prioritisation of stroke recovery work is hugely important.” Professor Nick Ward.

Read more: Professor Nick Ward

A new approach to the treatment of migraine

Professor Peter McNaughton, King's College London, was granted funding to further develop work looking at the processes that drive the pain in migraine. This will give insights as to how to treat it more effectively.

Migraine is a debilitating condition with a variety of symptoms, most notably a painful headache. It affects more people than diabetes, epilepsy and asthma combined.

This project has the potential to open up new ways to target the processes involved in migraine, and thus offer hope of more effective treatments for those affected.

“This funding from Brain Research UK is essential. If we had not got this funding the work in our lab would have stopped as we had no other funding source to continue it. The Brain Research UK funding has “made this happen” and we are most grateful to have it.” Professor Peter McNaughton

Read more: Professor Peter McNaughton

Regeneration and recovery following spinal cord injury

Professor Simone Di Giovanni, Imperial College London, is working to understand the complex mechanisms underlying regeneration of nerve fibres, to understand how these mechanisms can be exploited to help patients with spinal cord injuries.

There are around 40,000 people living with spinal cord injury in the UK, with around 1,000 new injuries every year. Damage to the spinal cord is irreparable and severe injury causes serious, permanent impairment.

Working with collaborators in Switzerland, Professor Di Giovanni is pioneering combinations of different rehabilitation techniques in combination with a drug that has shown promise in promoting regeneration of nerve fibres. This will underpin efforts to develop interventions that can promote repair of the spinal cord and enable people with spinal cord injuries to recover function.

Read more: Professor Simone Di Giovanni

Looking for project grant funding?

If you are a researcher working in one of our priority areas, find out more about our funding streams and how to apply.

Can you help us to accelerate the progress of neurological research?

All of our research funding comes from voluntary donations. Every year we receive far more high quality research applications than we can fund. Help us fund more research to accelerate progress.