Lab tour highlights how £1million funding boost will significantly enhance dementia research in Cambridge

Posted on 5th October 2016

A generous gift of £1million will be put to great use in Cambridge in the coming months thanks to the support of nonagenarian Lilian Sully who donated the money to Alzheimer’s Research UK in her Will after she passed away at the age of 91.

Lilian, from High Beach near Loughton, Essex, included a gift in her Will to the UK’s leading dementia research charity after devotedly caring for her husband of 54-years Joe.

Lilian cared for Joe for a number of years following his diagnosis of dementia with Lewy bodies.

Her niece and her three executors were given a tour of the Cambridge Drug Discovery Institute (DDI) last week to see how the money will be spent.

Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Chief Executive Hilary Evans and Ian Wilson, Executive Director of Fundraising and Communications, accompanied Dionne Dixon, Lilian’s niece, and Lilian’s three executors John Mortimer, Peter Timms, and Alastair Collett, a partner at Bircham Dyson Bell.Cambridge DDI tour l-r executors Alastair Collett Peter Timms Cambridge DDI CSO Dr John Skidmore Dionne Dixon ARUK Chief Executive Hilary Evans and executor Jo

Following the visit Mrs Dixon said:

“My aunt would be fascinated by the research development laboratory work and always had an inquisitive mind.”

Mr Mortimer, who is a Trustee with Peter Timms, of The Joseph and Lilian Sully Foundation, added:

“Lilian has supported Alzheimer’s Research UK for a number of years through the Joseph and Lilian Sully Foundation and has always requested a portion of funds should be used specifically for research into dementia with Lewy bodies.

“I am pleased to see that again a portion of Lilian’s gift will be used for this aim. The Joseph and Lilian Sully Foundation will continue to support such important research.”

The £1million gift has been split between the Cambridge DDI and dedicated research into dementia with Lewy bodies which is being carried out by the University of Cambridge.

A total of £207,450 has been injected into a study investigating dementia with Lewy bodies, which aims to determine how defence cells in the brain called microglia respond to the build-up of toxic proteins. They are particularly interested in receptors on these cells, Toll-like receptors (TLRs), and whether they can clear damaging protein build-up in the brain and slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies.

Professor Clare Bryant, who will be leading on the University of Cambridge study, aims to shed light on a potential avenue for treatment of the two diseases.

She wants to see if targeting TLRs may prove to be a way to dampen brain inflammation and reduce nerve cell damage therefore limiting the damage caused to the brain.

Meanwhile a further £792,550 will be spent on dementia research more widely at the Cambridge DDI, which is funded by Alzheimer’s Research UK.

The Cambridge research facility is one of three Institutes within the Alzheimer’s Research UK Drug Discovery Alliance, working alongside Institutes at the University of Oxford and University College London. Utilising dedicated teams of biologists and chemists, the Alliance will accelerate the discovery of novel, effective therapeutics for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. It is one of the largest and most co-ordinated efforts to find new drugs for dementia that exists.

Hilary Evans, Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“We are delighted to have been given the opportunity to show Lilian’s niece and executors around our Cambridge Drug Discovery Institute, where the majority of her generous gift will be spent and put to good use.

“Her exceptional and hugely generous gift of £1million will help bring our scientists closer to finding new ways to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure dementia with Lewy bodies and other dementias.

“Dementia poses one of the greatest threats to public health but research has the power to drive the next breakthrough. Our vision at Alzheimer’s Research UK is a world where people are free from the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia.”

For more information about leaving a gift to fund pioneering dementia research, contact Georgina Hyman or Emma Bates in confidence on 01223 896606 or email

Posted in Fundraising news, Science news