A crucial centre for dementia research, the South West Dementia Brain Bank (SWDBB) located at Southmead Hospital in Bristol, is on the brink of closure. The facility’s employees, including the director, Dr Laura Palmer, face potential job loss. The centre, which stores over 1,200 donated brains to advance dementia research, receives no government or NHS funding, instead relying on charitable contributions to cover operational expenses and staff salaries.
Dementia research charity BRACE has initiated a fundraising campaign to ensure the brain bank’s continued operation. The SWDBB is one of only six such facilities in England, and its closure would significantly impact the medical community’s ability to study dementia and develop effective treatments.
Dr Palmer, who oversees the brain bank, emphasised the importance of each brain donation: “One donation, although it has a high cost, could benefit hundreds of different areas of research.” She explained that it takes approximately £10,000 to store a single brain for around five years, totalling millions in storage costs alone for the more than 1,200 brain donations the centre has received.
BRACE’s director, Chris Williams, shed light on the urgency of dementia research in the UK, stating that roughly one million people are currently living with dementia without a cure. “The only way we can tackle this issue is through research. Laura’s work at the brain bank is vital to this global mission of finding a cure,” he said. Thousands of research papers have been published using donated tissue from the Bristol brain bank, further demonstrating its significance in the scientific community.
Dr Palmer acknowledged that the risk of the research ending due to insufficient funding has always been present. However, the current cost of living crisis and a decrease in donations have placed her job and the brain bank’s future in even greater jeopardy. “We have made a commitment to our donors and their families,” she said, emphasising the importance of upholding that promise.
The fundraiser initiated by BRACE has garnered more than £17,000 to date, but the campaign’s success is crucial to securing the future of the South West Dementia Brain Bank. The closure of the centre would not only impact the lives of its employees but also hinder the progress of dementia research in the UK and around the world. The scientific community, patients with dementia, and their families are all relying on the continuation of this vital work.
To contribute to the fundraiser and help save the South West Dementia Brain Bank, visit the BRACE website and show your support for this essential research facility. With every donation, the chances of finding a cure for dementia grow stronger, and the medical community moves one step closer to eradicating this devastating disease that impacts the lives of millions of people worldwide.