Barbour Foundation donation boosts medical research at Newcastle University

Young scientists will study debilitating conditions thanks to a kind-hearted donation from the Barbour Foundation

Dame Margaret Barbour
Dame Margaret Barbour

Researchers in the North East will study some of the most debilitating syndromes and diseases thanks to a donation from a leading North East business.

The Barbour Foundation gave £1m to young scientists at Newcastle University and the money has now been allocated to look into ageing, human genetics and neurodegenerative disease.

Prof Chris Day, pro-vice chancellor of the Faculty of Medical Sciences said: “This donation is enabling important research and we are all very grateful for the opportunities that it has given to the university so far and those it will create in the future.

“The funding will mean we can support young career scientists in some of the cutting-edge areas of research which can really make a difference to the healthcare we can provide in the future.

“This is wonderful news and really celebrates the import and life-changing work in which our research teams are involved.”

The donation will set up 19 research posts in Newcastle University’s Faculty of Medical Sciences in the next five years.

Dame Margaret Barbour, chair of the Barbour Foundation, last week met with a number of the students at Newcastle University who will benefit from her donation.

One of the students was Zoe Winston. Her research will focus on the effect that diabetes has on the brain in terms of attention, processing speed, memory and general functioning.

She said: “These things are currently poorly understood so I’m hopeful I could make a real difference with this research.

“I am very thankful to the Barbour Foundation for their immense generosity; it will make a big impact on my education and I will be forever grateful.”

Another student who has been helped by the funding is Randy Ballesteros, who will look at how mistakes in cell division can lead to disorders in babies such as Down’s syndrome.

Randy said: “I hope that my research can be a small step on the way to enabling more healthy babies. I would like to thank the Barbour Foundation for supporting my work and also for helping the generations to come.”

As much as £8m has been given to charitable causes since the Barbour Foundation was set up.

The South Shields-based country clothing firm, which is favoured by rock stars, ramblers and royalty, is a world-leader in its field.

Dame Margaret Barbour said: “I was so pleased to have had the opportunity to meet the students who are being helped. The visit was so interesting and I was very much impressed by their enthusiasm for the research of the medical topics they had chosen. I found it an extremely rewarding experience.”

The projects that the university will take forward will ultimately help scientists move closer to breakthroughs that will benefit patients here in the North East and further afield.

Prof Day added: “The Barbour Foundation has identified with our vision to further medical research by creating opportunities for bright scientists to develop their ideas here at Newcastle University.

“The projects they will take forward will look at the basic mechanisms of specific diseases and will ultimately help us move closer to breakthroughs that will benefit patients here in the region and across the world. We must continue to provide opportunities for younger researchers to explore new treatments for diseases such as dementia, cancer and stroke.”

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