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Joint Programming in Neurodegenerative Diseases

Neurodegenerative diseases are incurable and debilitating conditions that result in progressive degeneration or death of nerve cells, and include Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease and Motor Neurone Disease.  Of these, the dementias are responsible for the greatest burden of disease, with Alzheimer's disease representing over 60-70% of the cases. Neurodegenerative diseases are strongly linked with age and Ireland and other European countries have an increasingly elderly population. Currently, 16% of the European population is over 65, with this figure expected to reach 25% by 2030. According to certain estimates* the total direct medical and social care costs of Alzheimer's disease in Europe amount to USD 135.04 billion.

HRB is a partner in the development of a European strategy aimed at co-ordinating national efforts in neurodegenerative research across the biomedical, clinical and social spectrum. This is being conducted through a 'Joint Programming' approach between 23 EU member states, which was formally launched in April 2010. The ultimate goal of the Joint Programme on Neurodegenerative Diseases, in particular Alzheimer's (JPND) is to accelerate progress in understanding the causes of these debilitating conditions, leading to not only early diagnosis and the development of new treatments and prevention, but also the provision of more effective medical and social care to improve the quality of life for patients and care givers.

On February 7th 2012 JPND launched their Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) for neurodegenerative diseases detailing priorities for basic, clinical and socio-economic research. Over the coming years JPND will seek to implement the SRA by proposing innovative ways of pooling expertise and resources to address the fragmentation and duplication of current research efforts.

A number of calls for proposals were launched in 2011 in line with JPND objectives: the Centres of Excellence in Neurodegeneration call, and call for harmonisation of biomarkers between clinical centres. Ireland has had successful groups securing funding in both calls.

More information can be found on the official JPND website (

In addition, an Irish SRA is now being developed.  It will map the existing national R&D activity, and use this information to develop a coordinated national programme which is relevant to the EU-wide activities, but also relevant to national needs and expertise.  HRB and SFI have appointed a National Steering Committee to oversee this process. 

Information can be found through the link marked "Irish SRA" on the left hand side of this page. 

*2010 report by Alzheimer's Disease International

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