A new research centre, which aims to translate the latest lab science into innovative treatments to improve mental health and dementia, launches at the Warneford Hospital campus in Oxford.

Nicola Blackwood MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health and Innovation, marked the occasion by unveiling a plaque on 31st March, ahead of the centre’s first day official day of operation on 1st April.

Combining globally recognised research with clinical expertise, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Oxford are working together to establish the new National Institute for Health Research Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre (NIHR Oxford Health BRC). NIHR BRCs aim to turn the latest scientific discoveries into new treatments for patients. The new Oxford-based centre will be one of only two across England dedicated to mental health and dementia.

Nicola Canning, a mental health service user and research advocate who spoke at the launch event, said: “I think that research is very rewarding for the patients: participating in research has been life changing for me, and it is a privilege to be part of the effort to find new treatments to improve mental well-being.”

“This is the hope that we patients always have.”

The NIHR Oxford Health BRC will be looking into some big questions, such as finding ways to identify and treat dementia early and keep the brain healthy through old age, using the internet to bring tried-and-tested psychological therapies to many more people currently waiting for treatment, and finding new ways to treat serious illnesses such as bipolar disorder. Leaders for each of the research themes also spoke at the launch event.

Over five years, the centre will receive 12.8 million pounds to fund its work.

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 the Director of the new NIHR Oxford Health BRC, as well as the Head of the Department of Psychiatry and Director of Oxford Health’s Research and Development department, 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.”