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Alzheimer’s Research UK has appointed a Chief Scientific Officer to lead its Drug Discovery Institute at the University of Oxford.

The Institute forms part of a £30 million Drug Discovery Alliance, also involving Institutes at the University of Cambridge and University College London, which will accelerate the discovery of new, effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other causes of dementia.

There are 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia and that number is set to reach one million by 2020. Yet, there have been no new treatments for Alzheimer’s since 2002 and many people with other causes of dementia have no specific treatments available to them.

The Alzheimer’s Research UK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute will tackle this desperate lack of medicines head-on and Dr John Davis will lead the work of the Institute as its Chief Scientific Officer. Dr John Davis is an expert in drug discovery and has spent over two decades working in the pharmaceutical industry, steering promising new ideas from the lab into clinical trials. His role will be to unite the groundbreaking neuroscience research taking place across the city, with cutting edge resources and drug discovery experts at the Institute, based at the Old Road Campus in Headington.  .

Dr John Davis, Chief Scientific Officer at the Alzheimer’s Research UK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute, said:

Dr Davis will work closely with Lead Academic Scientists Prof Simon Lovestone and Prof Chas Bountra, as well as Chief Scientific Officers at the other two Institutes in the Drug Discovery Alliance, and draw on their individual strengths to ensure that efforts are well coordinated in the hunt for new treatments.

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

“I’m delighted to take on this new challenge at the Alzheimer’s Research UK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute, to support research through the critical early phases of drug discovery. I’ll be drawing on the wealth of expertise that surrounds us at the University of Oxford, in the hunt for key proteins or biological processes that could play a critical role in the diseases that cause dementia. Building an expert drug discovery team, made up of biologists and chemists, has already started as has  the search for approaches and compounds that could act to slow or stop the disease.

“There is real momentum building in dementia research and a growing recognition of the huge impact the condition has and the desperate need to develop medicines to tackle it. Oxford is home to world-leading dementia researchers, from those searching for indicators of Alzheimer’s in blood to those using stem cells to understand the earliest changes in the disease. We will make sure that research taking place in Oxford is at the cutting edge of current drug discovery efforts in dementia and I firmly believe that we will be successful in delivering experimental drugs with the potential of being the new dementia drugs of tomorrow.”

“Dementia is our greatest medical challenge and to find new treatments for the condition, we need big ambitions supported by a world-class team. We’re delighted to welcome Dr John Davis on board to share our vision and drive. He’ll bring decades of drug development experience to our unique venture, ensuring that we’re exploring as many promising avenues as we can to find successful new treatments. With 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia, including 8,500 in Oxfordshire alone, this is a condition we cannot ignore and we must continue to invest in world-leading research to change the lives of those affected.” 

Members of the public are invited to learn more about the new Institute at an open event, 5-7pm on 10 December. The event, held at the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford Old Road Campus, will include talks from dementia researchers and tours around the sophisticated drug discovery facilities. This will be a fantastic opportunity to learn about the pioneering research towards new treatments taking place in the city. To reserve your place, please contact or call 01865 223784.