The strategy essentially identifies research priorities to understand the cause, develop the cure and improve the care of neurodegenerative disease.
It has been developed as part of the EU Joint Programme in Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND) and is the first initiative of its kind. Joint Programming is a new collaborative approach in which countries define a common vision and a strategic research agenda, in order to address major societal challenges which are beyond the scale of any national research programme.
Enda Connolly, Chief Executive at the Health Research Board (HRB), who leads Ireland’s role in the Joint Programming Initiative says,
‘Dementia affects more people than cancer and heart disease combined. In Ireland alone it is estimated that 42,000 people are affected by some form of dementia and 4,000 new cases arise every year. Recent estimates indicate that dementia-related care in Ireland costs €1.7 billion per annum.
‘Given that dementias are strongly age-related, and we have a rapidly ageing population, the number of people with a neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimer’s is expected to more than treble across the EU over the next thirty years. This poses a serious challenge for health care providers and society in general.
‘To date, Neurodegenerative disease research doesn’t have the same level of international profile, coordination or funding as research in areas such as cancer. This strategy seeks to address that imbalance, and for the first time bring cohesion and focus to European research in this field.’
Ireland is taking a lead role in JPND. The Health Research Board CEO, Enda Connolly is one of a five member Executive Board, with overall responsibility for the development and implementation of the entire initiative, and also sits on the Management Board. Science Foundation Ireland also has an active role in driving Irish involvement, through participation on the JPND Management Board and co-funding of projects.
‘Ireland has a strongly developed expertise and research agenda in this area. This will place Irish scientists in a strong position to participate in new research initiatives funded, which in turn will benefit Irish patients who will be at the forefront of new care models and therapies,’ says Connolly.
The full text of the press release from JPND is attached below and will be at the on the JPND website (link also below) from 0800hrs on Tuesday 7 February 2012.
A copy of the strategic research plan, ‘Tackling the challenge of Alzheimer’s and other Neurodegenerative Diseases in Europe’ can also be downloaded from the JPND website from 0800hrs.
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