News Release

New policy research unit to improve dementia prevention, diagnosis and care

A new NIHR Dementia and Neurodegeneration Policy Research Unit (DeNPRU) is to be co-led by Queen Mary University of London and the University of Plymouth.

Grant and Award Announcement

Queen Mary University of London

Work will commence in January 2024, under co-directors Professors Claudia Cooper (QMUL) and Sube Banerjee (University of Plymouth).

Around 885,000 people in the UK live with dementia. Without major change in availability of preventive strategies, this number is expected to double within 25 years. The costs of dementia in the UK, currently mostly attributable to social care, will also increase - from £23 billion in 2015 to an estimated £80.1 billion in 2040.

The new unit will work with policymakers to produce research to answer four key questions on dementia and neurodegenerative disease:

  • How policy can help prevent these diseases by addressing risk factors.
  • How to improve people’s experience of a diagnosis and ensure good quality ongoing care for everyone.
  • How technology and the way services are provided can support everyone with these diseases to receive care designed to meet individual needs.
  • How to build a workforce with the right skills and positive attitudes towards people with these diseases.

For each question the team will address how to deliver fairer, inclusive services to reduce inequalities, how social care can support people to live the lives they want to lead beyond medical care, how to conduct research serving all communities, including involving those with lived experience, and how to provide the best value for patients and society.

The DeNPRU team includes collaborating researchers from University College London, Exeter, Newcastle, Plymouth, Liverpool, and York Universities, Meri Yaadain CiC, Dementia UK and Neurological Alliance. The Alzheimer's Society is working in partnership with the team.

This group draws on broad experience in deprived inner city and coastal areas in NE, NW, SW England and East London.

Co-Director Claudia Cooper, Professor of Psychological Medicine at QMUL said:

I am excited that QMUL is co-leading with University of Plymouth this national partnership across academic, clinical and lived experience organisations, with its ambitious commitment to drive up the quality of prevention, treatment and care services across dementia and neurodegenerative diseases. We will work with DHSC to build the evidence base policymakers need to drive more integrated, equitable, user-focused services. We will look especially at how services can be developed so that groups they currently serve less well can benefit equitably from scientific advances.’

Co-Director Sube Banerjee, Professor of Dementia at University of Plymouth said:

It is brilliant that the Department of Health and Social Care has commissioned our Policy Research Unit to help it develop and deliver the better care for people with dementia other neurodegenerative disorders that is so desperately needed. It is a privilege to co-lead, with Claudia and QMUL, our national network of researchers and clinicians, but above all people with lived experience of these illnesses. Together we can help make policy and services that can transform patient experience, delivering better treatment and support and improving outcomes for all.’

FUNDING NOTE: The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) have provided £2.99million to fund this Unit for 36 months.




Sophia Prout

Faculty Communications Manager – Medicine and Dentistry

Queen Mary University of London


Tel: +44 (0) 7718136512


For further information about dementiaFacts for the media about dementia | Alzheimer's Society (


About Queen Mary University of London

At Queen Mary University of London, we believe that a diversity of ideas helps us achieve the previously unthinkable.

Throughout our history, we’ve fostered social justice and improved lives through academic excellence. And we continue to live and breathe this spirit today, not because it’s simply ‘the right thing to do’ but for what it helps us achieve and the intellectual brilliance it delivers.

Our reformer heritage informs our conviction that great ideas can and should come from anywhere. It’s an approach that has brought results across the globe, from the communities of east London to the favelas of Rio de Janeiro.

We continue to embrace diversity of thought and opinion in everything we do, in the belief that when views collide, disciplines interact, and perspectives intersect, truly original thought takes form.


The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) 

The mission of the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) is to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. We do this by: Funding high quality, timely research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care;

  • Investing in world-class expertise, facilities and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services;
  • Partnering with patients, service users, carers and communities, improving the relevance, quality and impact of our research;
  • Attracting, training and supporting the best researchers to tackle complex health and social care challenges;
  • Collaborating with other public funders, charities and industry to help shape a cohesive and globally competitive research system;
  • Funding applied global health research and training to meet the needs of the poorest people in low and middle income countries.

NIHR is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. Its work in low- and middle-income countries is principally funded through UK Aid from the UK government.


About the University of Plymouth

The University of Plymouth is renowned worldwide for its high-quality research, teaching and innovation. With a mission to Advance Knowledge and Transform Lives, the University drives the global debate in disciplines from marine and maritime to medicine, law, computing and climate action.

With a city centre campus and further state-of-the-art facilities spread across Plymouth and beyond, plus Devon and Cornwall’s stunning coast and countryside on the doorstep, the University provides a unique blend of urban and outdoor lifestyle opportunities for everyone who studies and works here.

A three-time winner of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education – most recently in respect of its pioneering research on microplastics pollution in the ocean – Plymouth consistently ranks among the world’s leading universities for its innovation, research and teaching in relation to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

In recognition of its efforts to reduce the impact of campus activities on the environment, the University has been verified carbon neutral. The independent PAS 2060 verification acknowledges a reduction in emissions of 78% since 2005, with the University more than halving its carbon footprint since 1990, and significantly reducing its water usage, waste, and business travel.

This has enabled it to achieve its initial net zero ambition three years ahead of target, and the University continues to invest in a sustainable future through upgrades to its estate. That commitment includes 2023’s opening of the Babbage Building and InterCity Place as new engineering and design and healthcare facilities, respectively – both of which extend and breathe fresh life into old structures – plus the forthcoming creation of a new green space at the heart of Plymouth’s urban campus.

First established more than 160 years ago as the Plymouth School of Navigation, the University has a proud track record of helping its students find their way in an increasingly complex world, including developing the essential skills, resilience and experience they will need throughout their future careers.

With strong connections to business and industry, the University generates opportunities for placements, internships and employment, alongside inspiring and nurturing creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. Students also have access to a full range of non-academic and wellbeing support throughout their studies, meaning they get the opportunity to develop both personally and professionally.

Plymouth’s teaching and learning excellence is reflected in one of the highest numbers of National Teaching Fellows of any UK university. With over 18,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students, plus a further 7,000 studying at partner institutions in the UK and around the world, and over 140,000 alumni pursuing their chosen careers internationally, the University of Plymouth has a growing global presence.




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