Oxford Health is delighted to announce we have secured £12.8m for a new biomedical research centre for mental health and dementia in Oxford in partnership with the University of Oxford, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

The two organisations will work together to establish the new NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), one of only two across the country dedicated to mental health and dementia. NIHR BRCs bring together expertise within the NHS with leading research organisations to turn latest discoveries into fundamentally new treatments for patients.

Over five years, the new centre will receive £12.8 million to fund its research.

The hub of the new centre will be based at Oxford Health’s Warneford Hospital site. The site also houses the University of Oxford’s Department of Psychiatry and its associated research centres and facilities.

Stuart Bell CBE, Oxford Health’s Chief Executive, said:

“We’re thrilled to host this new NIHR Biomedical Research Centre dedicated to mental health. This award recognises Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and the close partnership with the University of Oxford. Together we will be developing close partnerships with others to bring better treatments to the NHS.”

Professor John Geddes, who is Head of the Department of Psychiatry and Director of Oxford Health’s Research and Development department, and who will become Director of the NIHR Oxford Health BRC said:

“Oxford University is already a world leader in basic research, but this new biomedical research centre will enable us to drive insights from our discovery science into innovative treatments. We also congratulate our colleagues at Oxford University Hospitals on the renewal of their BRC and look forward to working extremely closely with them in future.”

Research at the new NIHR Oxford Health BRC aims to enable the NHS to routinely use innovations such as using an app to track mood changes to help diagnose and personalise treatments for mood disorders, treat paranoia using virtual reality simulations, treat psychotic disorders using neuroimmunology and deliver therapy over the internet for conditions such as anxiety.

Scientists also plan to use cutting-edge techniques in genetics, brain imaging and computation to find ‘biomarkers’ which could help predict who might be at risk of developing dementia and to diagnose the disease early. These approaches will enable researchers to develop treatments for dementia, and come up with ways of maintaining normal mental functioning as we grow older.

Alastair Buchan, the head of the Medical Sciences Division at Oxford University, said:

“The partnership between Oxford University and the Oxford Health Foundation Trust is a close and successful relationship that achieves better understanding of psychiatric conditions and creates new treatments that help people cope with—and recover from—mental ill health. At the same time, our collaboration is offering new insights into dementia and finding new ways to beat it. I am delighted to see the achievements of our dedicated and talented joint team recognised in this funding for an NIHR Biomedical Research Centre dedicated to mental health and dementia in Oxford.”

Both the University of Oxford and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust are also part of the Oxford Academic Health Sciences Centre, a partnership organisation which aims to foster the translation of research breakthroughs into direct benefit for patients.

Professor Sir John Bell, Chairman of the Oxford Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC) said:

“The award of NIHR funding to Oxford’s BRCs is a great refection of the strengths of the Oxford AHSC partners, and will enable us to work together to address major healthcare challenges in areas such as chronic diseases, dementia and digital health”.