Former Prime Minister David Cameron has been announced as the new President of Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity. Mr Cameron takes up the unpaid role, the highest level of ambassador to the charity, with a visit to its Cambridge Drug Discovery Institute.
Mr Cameron made dementia a focus of his time in office, launching the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge in 2012 and kick-starting a drive to deliver major improvements in care and research. Writing at the time, Mr Cameron said that “dementia is one of the biggest challenges we face today – and it is one that we as a society simply cannot afford to ignore any longer.”
In 2013, Mr Cameron helped drive dementia further up the agenda on the world stage by using the UK’s presidency of the G8 to shine a light on the condition, precipitating an international ambition to find a disease modifying treatment by 2025. At a G7 legacy event in London in 2014, Mr Cameron launched Alzheimer’s Research UK’s ambitious five-year £100m Defeat Dementia fundraising campaign as part of a showcase of the UK’s lead role in dementia science.
Alzheimer’s Research UK is one of the fastest growing medical research charities in the country, with a current £33m portfolio of projects underway at leading universities in the UK and around the world. Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2017, and with a research legacy of £80m across over 650 projects, the charity is at the forefront of global dementia research efforts. Its programmes include a world-first network of dementia Drug Discovery Institutes, innovative international partnerships between academia and industry, and award-winning public awareness campaigns, most recently Santa Forgot.
Mr Cameron kicks off his Presidency with a visit to the charity’s offices in Cambridge, and a tour of one of Alzheimer’s Research UK’s three Drug Discovery Institutes (DDIs). During the tour, the charity’s new President heard from scientists at the Cambridge DDI who are working to fast-track promising research breakthroughs into new treatments for people with dementia. Mr Cameron takes on the presidency as Lady Onslow steps down from the role after many years supporting Alzheimer’s Research UK during a period of constant growth.
Speaking about his appointment as President of Alzheimer’s Research UK, David Cameron, PC said:
“Tackling dementia was a major focus while I was Prime Minister, and although improvements in attention and research innovation have been rapid, it remains one of our greatest health challenges.
“So I’m delighted to take up the Presidency of Alzheimer’s Research UK, an ambitious charity driving medical research to fight this devastating condition. As well as being a world-leading research organisation, the charity is also fighting the misconceptions of dementia that persist in society. Dementia is not inevitable and research is our greatest weapon against it.
“I’m committed to helping Alzheimer’s Research UK transform the lives of those affected by this life-shattering condition.”
Shaheen Larrieux, a Champion of Alzheimer’s Research UK, understands the impact of dementia only too well. Four years ago her mother Hosna was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD), a rare form of dementia with distressing symptoms including personality changes and aggressive behaviour. She said:
“When I look back, I can clearly see how the disease started with changes in Mum’s behaviour. It started out with a lot of aggression and socially inappropriate behaviour, but at first no-one attributed it to a medical issue. It was a long hard struggle to understand that Mum has a degenerative brain disease, and it’s heartbreaking to know that there are no treatments that can help her. Alzheimer’s Research UK’s work is absolutely vital: we must find a cure for dementia, and I’m thrilled to see David Cameron supporting the charity in this way.”
Welcoming Mr Cameron’s appointment, Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“David Cameron joins Alzheimer’s Research UK as our President to continue a mission he instigated through the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge: to go further and faster in our research to combat the condition. As a world leader, Mr Cameron has done more than any other to put dementia on the global agenda, driving an ambition shared by all G7 nations to find a disease-modifying treatment by 2025.
“Alzheimer’s Research UK is a hugely ambitious and growing charity, uniquely set-up to tackle our greatest medical challenge. We have a clear focus on pioneering research, working with leading scientists across the UK and the world. We are committed to bringing together the brightest minds and most innovative ideas in powerful collaborations that reach breakthroughs faster. David Cameron’s support of our work will help us continue our positive growth and further bolster our research efforts, through which we will end the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia.”
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