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Key dementia research facility protected thanks to BRACE

Dr Laura Palmer, SWDBB manager Oliver Edward

Dr Candida Tasman one of the SWDBB’s research technician Oliver Edward

Press release issued: 8 July 2020

One of the most important facilities supporting dementia research in the country will continue its help in the fight against the disease thanks to an award of £140,000 by Bristol dementia research charity BRACE.

The South West Dementia Brain Bank (SWDBB), part of the Bristol Medical School, is based at Southmead Hospital.  It stores brain tissue donated specifically for dementia-related research and provides tissue samples for research laboratories far and wide.

Research on brain tissue has played an invaluable role in the understanding of dementia to date and ongoing efforts to find a potential cure and treatments for dementia.

Medical research, including research into dementia, has been hit hard by the restrictions enforced during the coronavirus pandemic. There are fears that many projects will not recover and even that some key research facilities will close. 

BRACE was able to award the grant that will protect the SWDBB’s work into autumn 2021 because it had set aside funds before the start of the pandemic.

Mark Poarch, BRACE Chief Executive, said, "It was as well that our trustees had started reserving funds for the Brain Bank as far back as 2018, as our fundraising has been devastated by the pandemic and we have had to rebuild from a low base.

"We know that many research projects are currently closed, and some will struggle to restart or get back to full scale activity for some time. The Brain Bank underpins so much research and letting it disappear would be like taking the foundations from under a house."

Professor Pat Kehoe, Co-Director of the SWDBB and Gestetner Professor of Translational Dementia Research at the University of Bristol, added: "The coronavirus pandemic has been a very challenging time for everyone and especially for the many charities that support vital research.

"We are extremely grateful for the award by BRACE, which will enable us to continue to maintain the throughput of this research resource that continues to support numerous new programmes of research around the world to try and put an end to this devastating condition."

BRACE has had a close relationship with the SWDBB since the charity was formed in 1987. It has awarded multiple support grants to the SWDBB as well as funded research projects in the closely associated research laboratories of the Dementia Research Group.

BRACE is now seeking to raise further funds to ensure the continuation of the SWDBB’s vital work well into the future.

Further information

BRACE is a registered charity (No. 297965) established in 1987 to finance research into dementia and , particularly Alzheimer's disease. BRACE supports dementia research projects undertaken in universities and hospitals in the South West of the UK, particularly in Bristol, which is a centre of excellence for neuroscience research.

BRACE has raised more than £11 million to help support diverse research projects into all aspects of dementia.

BRACE is one of only a few charities that exists specifically to finance dementia research - this work is vital if future generations are to be free from the fear of this devastating illness.

About the South West Dementia Brain Bank (SWDBB)
The SWDBB laboratory, housed within the University of Bristol’s Learning and Research Building at Southmead Hospital, supports dementia research that has the potential to contribute to our understanding of the underlying diseases or to be of value to sufferers and their families.

The SWDBB is under the co-directorship of Professor Seth Love and Professor Patrick Kehoe and is licensed to operate as a research tissue bank by the Human Tissue Authority (HTA).

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