Generous new gift supports scholarships in neurodegenerative diseases

Generous new gift supports scholarships in neurodegenerative diseases

  • Microscopic image of brain inflammation from Alzheimer's Disease. Credit: National Institute on Aging, NIH
    Brain Inflammation from Alzheimer's Disease. Credit: National Institute on Aging, NIH

Research into neurodegenerative diseases will receive a significant boost, thanks to three new PhD studentships in Cambridge, supported by a grant of £227,557 from the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the freemasons’ charity.

The Masonic Charitable Foundation Cambridge Scholarships, facilitated by the Cambridge Trust, will bring three leading young scientists to Cambridge over the next three years.

The first Scholar, Sarah Shipley, took up her place at Cambridge this year. She will work with Professor Rik Henson in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences on a project to study memory consolidation in Alzheimer’s disease, looking at the loss of memory in the early stages of the disease.

Cambridge is at the forefront of combating neurodegenerative diseases and is one of the centres for the UK Dementia Institute, established in response to the government’s 2020 Challenge on Dementia.

I am enormously grateful to the Foundation for their support. Understanding how and why memory consolidation changes in Alzheimer’s disease could open the door for future research into targeted treatment of memory-related symptoms. Working in Cambridge offers a unique potential for research in this area.

Sarah Shipley

A further recruitment programme is underway and a second candidate has been selected to join the cohort in October 2019.

"Degenerative diseases such as Alzheimers, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease take a devastating toll on victims and their families, and place a huge economic cost on society," said Professor David Rubinsztein, Deputy Director of the Cambridge Institute of Medical Research. "The work taking place in Cambridge, under leading academics including Professor Rik Henson, has the potential to be truly transformative. We’re making great progress, but there remains a great deal to do. Support from donors such as the Masonic Charitable Foundation in helping us to bring the best young scientists here is invaluable."

David Innes, Chief Executive of the Masonic Charitable Foundation said:

"The studentships will help deliver fundamental new research in understanding neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. We’re delighted to support these talented young researchers to further advance Cambridge’s leading work in this field."

The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) is one of the largest grant-making charities in the country. Funded entirely through the generosity of Freemasons and their families, the MCF awards millions of pounds each year to local and national charities that help vulnerable people, advance medical research and provide opportunities for young people. The MCF also helps to fund vital services such as hospices and air ambulances and regularly contributes to worldwide appeals for disaster relief. In total, MCF support helps to improve the lives of thousands of people every year in England, Wales and internationally.

The University has recently announced a £500 million initiative aimed at raising funds for graduate studentships and enhancing financial support for undergraduate students. The Student Support Initiative looks to ensure that as many as possible of the best students have the opportunity to study at Cambridge and are fully supported whilst doing so.

The Masonic Charitable Foundation gift contributes to the £2 billion Dear World, Yours Cambridge fundraising campaign for the University and Colleges of Cambridge, for which the total currently stands at £1.45 billion.

To find out more about how you can support clinical neuroscience research at Cambridge, please contact:

Niamh O’Mahony

Senior Associate Director – Trusts and Foundations

+44 (0)1223 766200

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