UEA launches funding appeal for world-leading bone and joint centre

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The University of East Anglia has launched an appeal to raise vital funds for a groundbreaking new research centre at the Norwich Research Park.

The Norfolk Bone and Joint Centre will be dedicated to researching and finding new treatments for chronic bone diseases including osteoporosis, arthritis, joint replacements and the bone disorder Paget’s Disease.

The centre, which is a joint venture between UEA and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH), will be ideally placed to draw on the expertise of leading science institutions around the Norfolk Research Park and the university.

It will be based in the state-of-the-art Norwich Medical Research Building which is due to be constructed between August 2013 and September 2014. The building will also house world-leading scientists specialising in three other particular fields; prostate cancer, nutrition and health, and microbiology.

Prof Ian Harvey, executive dean, UEA Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences said: “This development marks another highly significant step forwards in biomedical sciences on the Norwich Research Park. I would like to thank the patrons, staff and volunteers behind this appeal for their energy and enthusiasm, on behalf of the University and our partners at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.”

The Bone and Joint Centre will be led by Prof Bill Fraser, professor of medicine at UEA, who will head up the centre’s research team and has been accredited with significant findings in bone research.

Prof Fraser said: “When one considers the health needs of an ageing population, it’s very clear that the chronic diseases of bone and joint are incredibly important to the individual, and of course extremely costly to the state, both in terms of surgery costs and care in the community. By supporting the new expert clinical research here we have a real opportunity to develop the knowledge necessary to prevent these diseases in the future, and improve their treatment now.”

Although UEA and NNUH have funded more than £16 million of the total £19 million cost of the research building, the Bone and Joint Appeal hopes to raise £1 million through donations from the local community and charitable trusts, with a further £2 million in philanthropic gifts from corporate investment, national foundations and UEA alumni being sought.

The Norfolk Bone and Joint Appeal is being led by a volunteer group of eminent local health professionals:

• Keith Tucker, local orthopaedic surgeon and founder of local trust Action Arthritis

• Mrs Trish Phillips, former chairman of the National Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

• David Scott, honorary professor of rheumatology and formerly head of department at the NNUH

Mr Tucker said: “Norfolk has a proud history of innovation in the musculo-skeletal field and to see the vision of the University and the Hospital taking forward world class research together into these diseases is fantastic – it means that Norwich will remain at the forefront of medical discovery for many years to come. We are all extremely proud to be part of this appeal, and we urge everyone who can to help with a donation.”

Research and treatment for musculoskeletal disorders have a long history in the region. Sir James Paget, who discovered Paget’s disease, was born in Great Yarmouth where the hospital is now named after him. Norwich has a long and proud tradition of innovation in Total Hip Replacement which was pioneered by Ken McKee CBE and John Watson-Farrar, in the 1960s, with the tradition being maintained by the late Hugh Phillips and Keith Tucker.

The building will be managed on behalf of UEA and the NNUH by dean of Norwich Medical School, Prof David Crossman, who said: “Providing much needed research space for our biomedical scientists supports the strategic vision of the Norwich Research Park, underpins the future of the Medical School and also, through our collaborative planning with the NNUH, expands ward space through re-provision of clinical teaching space. It represents a win for all parties on the NRP, and also for local people.”

Chief executive of NNUH, Anna Dugdale, said: “The new building is a clear demonstration of the very close partnership between the Hospital and the University. It brings with it exciting opportunities to benefit our patients and the wider community through the research and teaching it will enable.”

The ambitious project also has the support of a number of leading medics and scientists. Former UEA lecturer and one time chief government scientific advisor Sir David King spoke in support of the development at a recent UEA alumni dinner at the Reform Club, London. Patrons of the Norfolk Bone and Joint Appeal are Henry Cator OBE FRICS DL, Caroline Jarrold, Mark Jeffries, Richard Jewson JP MA Hon DCL and Viscountess Knollys OBE DL.

For more information about the Norfolk Bone and Joint Centre or for details on how donations to the fund can be made, visit: www.uea.ac.uk/boneandjoint