Charity chief to lead government's dementia taskforce

The chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK Hilary Evans has been named co-chair of a government taskforce set up in the memory of the late actress Barbara Windsor to explore ways to speed up dementia research.

She has been appointed to chair the ‘national mission to tackle dementia’ alongside Nadeem Sarwar, global head of genomic strategies and digital therapeutics at pharmaceutical firm Eisai.

“Together, they will convene industry, the NHS, academia and families living with dementia, to tackle this devastating illness, said a joint statement from the Department of Health and Social Care and Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.

The Dame Barbara Windsor Mission has been developed to find ways to speed up dementia research and follows the government’s announcement that it will invest £160m in dementia research by 2024.

“This significant initiative will drive forward progress in dementia research and bring us closer to a cure,” said Evans.

“Dementia research has made great strides in recent years, but there is still important progress to be made on multiple fronts, and this needs effective collaboration across the whole dementia landscape.

“From researchers to regulatory bodies responsible for making sure patients can access safe and effective treatments without delay, and of course the NHS and research workforce. I look forward to working closely with Nadeem to make this happen and help ensure the UK is at the forefront of dementia research for years to come.”

Barbara Windsor was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014. In the year before her death in six years later she and her husband Scott Mitchell became ambassadors for the Alzheimer’s Society.

“Dementia is an especially cruel condition for both patients and their loved ones; as Dame Barbara’s brave campaigning made powerfully clear for all,” said science and research minister George Freeman.

He added: “Patient engagement is key, which is why our new dementia mission is patient centred with a key role for dementia charities.

“Hilary and Nadeem will be instrumental in that, by driving this project in the spirit of Dame Barbara and all those desperate for hope of a cure. As cancer has become a treatable and increasingly curable disease in our lifetime, so too can dementia.”

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