US mini logoHome | A-Z Index | People | Reference | Contact us

Press release

  • 13 March 2009

Terry Pratchett helps fund Alzheimer's research at Sussex

Louise Serpell

Louise Serpell at work in the laboratory

One year on from Sir Terry Pratchett's donation of a million US dollars to the Alzheimer's Research Trust (ART), the researchers at the University of Sussex who received the funding have described the progress made in their understanding of Alzheimer's disease.

The popular Discworld writer and ART Patron donated the huge sum to the charity at its 2008 annual conference in Bristol and spoke of the vital importance of dementia research. Sir Terry chose to commit the money to one of ART's major research projects, led by researchers at the University of Sussex, investigating ways of slowing or halting Alzheimer's disease.

Dr Louise Serpell is based at the University of Sussex in Brighton and leads a collaborative research team working with the VIB and Free University of Brussels in Belgium and the National Institute for Medical Research in London. On the first anniversary of Sir Terry's funding (13 March), the team has reported back on the progress of their work. A wide variety of cutting edge approaches have been employed to help them find out what happens as Alzheimer's develops.

The techniques are helping the team to understand how toxic particles in the brains of people with Alzheimer's form and begin to attack brain cells. With the aim of the research to gain detailed understanding of how Alzheimer's develops, the findings will be a crucial in the development of new treatments that could combat the disease.

Dr Louise Serpell has explained the significance of the research:

"This research is vitally important for efforts to develop new treatments for Alzheimer's. We urgently need to improve our understanding of what happens in the brain as the disease develops. As our knowledge increases, we can target new research towards therapies that can help people with dementia."

Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer's Research Trust, said:"Sir Terry Pratchett's support of Alzheimer's research knows no bounds. As well as speaking out about his own diagnosis and the need to invest in research now, Sir Terry has also put his money where his mouth is, and injected a great deal of his own money into supporting the work of the charity.

"Dr Serpell's research at the University of Sussex is putting Sir Terry's funding to excellent use, and her study is already improving our understanding of how Alzheimer's develops and edging us ever closer to the treatments we so desperately need".

Sir Terry Pratchett, Patron of the Alzheimer's Research Trust, said:"There's only two ways it can go: researchers, with as much help we can give them, may come up= with something that reduces the effects of this dreadful, inhuman disease, or we will have to face the consequences of our failure to prevent the final years of many of us being a long bad dream. The strain on carers and their support is bad enough now; before very long the effects on the health service and society itself, will be unbearable."

Over 22,500 people in Sussex have dementia.

Notes for editors

  • Dr Louise Serpell is based at the University of Sussex in Brighton and leads a collaborative research team with groups led by Professors Rousseau and Schymkovitz at Vrije Universiteit in Belgium and Dr Pastore at National Institute for Medical Research in London.
  • The Alzheimer's Research Trust provides free information on Alzheimer's disease and related dementias: phone 01223 843899 or visit The charity relies solely on public donations to fund its research.
  •  For more information contact the University of Sussex press office, Jacqui Bealing and Maggie Clune email: Tel: 01273 678888

Useful links

Site maintained by: Web team Disclaimer | Feedback