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Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing

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Browse our past news features.


September 2014 

Manchester scientists benefit from increased funding in dementia research

Alzheimer’s Research UK has increased funding to its Manchester and North West Research Network Centre, which supports pioneering dementia researchers across the region.

Alzheimer’s Research UK will support 15 Network Centres of scientific excellence across the UK, including a centre in Manchester and North West, uniting researchers from the Universities of Manchester, Liverpool and Lancaster. Nearly 80 researchers at the three institutions will receive a much-needed boost in investment, benefiting from £80,000 over two years. The investment is part of the charity’s £100m Defeat Dementia fundraising campaign, announced in June by the Prime Minister.

With calls from the G8 Dementia Summit in December for increased collaboration in dementia research, the Alzheimer’s Research UK Research Network brings together scientists from a variety of disciplines, both within their own institution, in neighbouring centres of academic excellence and throughout the UK. Teams of scientists who would not normally encounter each other are able to pool their expertise in projects that span the length of the country.

Over 88,000 people in the North West have dementia and the Alzheimer’s Research UK Research Network has been building since 1998 with the aim to tackle this problem, supporting scientists to ultimately find a cure for the condition. Manchester was one of the original founding Network members and this increased regional funding will allow the teams in the region to pursue new ideas through equipment grants and support for small innovative projects. Scientists in Manchester are a prime example of collaborative research, with a brain bank providing brain samples to dementia researchers around the region.

Besides providing a focal point for researchers, the Manchester and North West Network Centre will help the local community understand the progress being made in dementia research. Every year, the Centre hosts a free public meeting, an informal event for the public to hear about the latest research findings. These events foster dialogue between researchers and those touched by the condition, providing scientists with new insights into dementia and inspiring new approaches to research.

For more information please follow the link below:

For further information, or to speak with a scientist, a case study or spokesperson from Alzheimer’s Research UK, please contact the Alzheimer’s Research UK press office on 0300 111 5 666, mobile 07500803936 or email 

Call for brain donors in the North West to help dementia research

Researchers at the Manchester Brain Bank are calling for people over 65 without dementia or people of any age who have dementia, to consider pledging to donate their brain to dementia research. Brains for Dementia Research is a brain donation scheme funded by Alzheimer’s Research UK and Alzheimer’s Society and supported by the MRC, which gives people in England and Wales the opportunity to donate their brain to help researchers defeat dementia.

The scheme was set up to address a shortage in human brain tissue - a gold standard for research into Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Donors have memory and thinking assessments every couple of years so that when the donation is made, researchers have an idea of how the brain was working during life.

The Manchester team recruits donors from across the North West and are keen to speak to anyone interested in the project. You don’t have to have dementia to sign up and there is no upper age limit.

To find our more visit Brains for Dementia Research, call 0207 848 8377 or email Steve Chew-Graham, Brain Bank Co-ordinator at 

Dr Martin Hyde joins The University of Manchester

We are delighted to welcome Dr Martin Hyde who has joined The University of Manchester as lecturer in sociology as part of the University's growing commitment to research on ageing.

Martin joins from the Stress Research Institute at the Stockholm University where he has been researching health and well-being in later life with a particular focus on the impact of retirement and working conditions. He works on large scale surveys including the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) which Manchester academics James Nazroo and James Banks co-manage.  Martin’s research also looks at global ageing and the spatialities of later life, and consumption, leisure and the Third Age. 

Martin has a PhD in the sociology of ageing and has previously worked at Sheffield Hallam, University College London and Imperial College London. He is the co-ordinator of the Integrated Datasets in Europe for Ageing Research (IDEAR) network which brings together studies in the UK, Sweden, France, Finland and Denmark. He is also an Associate Editor on Ageing & Society.


July 2014

University renews partnership with Alliance Boots

Five-year skin research programme to further understand skin ageing

The University and Alliance Boots have renewed their partnership in order to build on the highly successful work already achieved between the two organisations.

This new five-year partnership, which will run until the end of 2018, aims to further investigate the mechanisms by which human skin ages and, in turn, help boost innovation within Boots product brands.

The partnership will continue to examine both the intrinsic characteristics of skin ageing and the effect the environment has in accelerating the process. Furthermore, this new programme will explore causes of accelerated skin ageing such as inflammation, as well as investigating ageing in people of different ethnicities. The programme will also focus on the testing of anti-ageing technologies, including beauty devices, to help deliver faster and higher quality outputs.

The renewal of the partnership was launched at the Manchester Museum and attended by key representatives from both Alliance Boots and the University. Widely recognised as world leaders in skin ageing, the University research team will be led by Professor Chris Griffiths, Professor of Dermatology and Consultant Dermatologist at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust.

Over the past five years, Alliance Boots and the University have achieved a strong publication record creating two patents, 29 published academic articles showcasing new findings in high impact dermatology journals – with seven more in preparation. In addition, work has been presented at 20 international conferences. The partnership has also enabled Alliance Boots to further meet customer needs through the development of its highly regarded product brands, while ensuring a leading competitive advantage within the anti-ageing skincare category.

President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell said: "This collaboration between Alliance Boots and The University of Manchester is a world-leading example of commercial and academic partners working together as one team."

Professor Chris Griffiths added: "We can tell a lot about the overall health of a person from looking at their skin – this exciting new partnership will allow us to better understand how we age and why people age at different rates."

Volunteers required for dementia care research project

Are you or have you been a carer or supporter of a person living with dementia?

Dr Andrew Balmer, a researcher at The University of Manchester, would like to invite you to take part in a sociological research project about how people caring for or supporting a person with dementia experience changes in behaviour of those they care for and support.

As part of this study Andrew wants to ask carers about their experiences of caring for or supporting a person with dementia. This would involve a one-off interview which would last 1-2 hours at a date, time and location of your choice. It is also possible to conduct the interview by telephone.

The aims of the project are to increase our understanding of how people make sense of dementia, and how social relationships change in the context of dementia care.

If you would like to take part in the project, or you have any questions, please telephone or email Andrew using the contact details below and he will send you some extra information.

Dr Andrew Balmer Email: Telephone: 07737 512634 or 016127 52488

June 2014

MICRA event raises awareness of intergenerational learning in education

MICRA recently hosted an event, “Intergenerational Schools: Creating a Legacy” to raise awareness of intergeneration learning, with a presentation from two leading academics and founders of The Intergenerational Schools (TIS) in the United States.  

Angela Rippon OBE, co-chair of the Dementia-Friendly Communities strand of the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia, welcomed the specially invited audience from local schools, along with professionals and practitioners from the cultural sector, and introduced Professor Peter Whitehouse and Dr Cathy Whitehouse, founders of The Intergenerational Schools.  

Professor Whitehouse, a geriatric neurologist and cognitive neuroscientist, and his wife Dr Whitehouse, Chief Educator of The Intergenerational Schools talked to their audience about their legacy, their contribution to language skills, literacy and the arts, and their support for learning across all generations.  

The couple established The Intergenerational Schools in Cleveland, Ohio, with the aim of developing new forms of learning for children up to 14, involving people of all ages. Since their inception 14 years ago The Intergenerational Schools has received recognition for the achievements of its pupils as well as for innovative programmes engaging older people.  

MICRA’s Institute Executive Director, Professor Chris Phillipson, Professor of Sociology and Social Gerontology, Faculty of Humanities, said: “This event gave the audience a unique opportunity to learn about existing intergenerational work taking place. Listening to Professor and Dr Whitehouse talk about their success in the US also provided a platform to further explore the impact and benefits that The Intergenerational School could potentially have in the UK.”  

After the presentation, the audience engaged in a question and answer session with the Whitehouses and further discussed intergenerational learning and community partnerships and potential learning points for UK Schools.  

The event, organised in partnership with The Manchester Museum, The Whitworth Art Gallery and Manchester City Council’s Age-friendly Manchester programme, took place at the Museum.

Launch of the UK's first Research and Evaluation Framework for Age-friendly Cities

24 June 2014 saw the launch of the UK’s first Research and Evaluation Framework for Age-friendly Cities: a practical resource for cities looking to develop age-inclusive programmes and initiatives. The framework was written by Dr Sophie Handler, a joint appointment between Manchester City Council and The University of Manchester working with Professor Chris Phillipson in MICRA. 

The framework has been Published by the UK Urban Ageing Consortium, a collaborative research/policy partnership that actively supports the development of Age-friendly environments including MICRA, Keele University, Manchester City Council and the Beth Johnson Foundation. The framework provides a series of key facts, summaries and readable ‘evidence’ reviews for each of the WHO Age-friendly domains, and a series of practical steps that cities can start to take to set up and evaluate their own Age-friendly initiatives. It has been developed in parallel to the Old Moat Age-friendly Research Project and with the direct involvement of the Age-friendly Manchester team at Manchester City Council led by Paul McGarry.

Commenting on the framework, Paul McGarry, Senior Strategy Manager of Age-friendly Manchester notes,  “[a]t the heart of the urban ageing agenda we need to create dynamic working relationships between researchers, policymakers and practitioners and contemporary accounts of ageing, like these, rooted in social research but made relevant to local action.”

To download a copy of the REF, please follow the link below

Healthy Volunteers aged 50-80 years required for research project, Understanding Gastrointestinal Involvement in Systemic Sclerosis

Brief Description: We are seeking healthy volunteers to participate in a research study at Salford Royal to assess the gastrointestinal involvement in patients with systemic sclerosis. We need healthy volunteers for comparison to our patients with systemic sclerosis.

What is involved: Participation would involve 1 attendance at Salford Royal, an overnight fast, questionnaires, consumption of a supplement drink, assessment of the speed of stomach emptying, using breath samples, and the monitoring of blood pressure, heart rate and skin responses.

£30 will be provided to compensate for your time and inconvenience. In addition, up to £30 will be provided towards your travel expenses.

Participant information: This is a matched control study so we are looking to match healthy people with patients.  We are especially looking for people aged 50-80 years.

You can take part in this study if you do not have:

  • Systemic sclerosis or Raynaud’s phenomenon
  • Stomach problems
  • High blood pressure

Locations: Salford Royal Hospital

How to take part: To take part in this study, contact the research team by telephone or email Phone: Diane Clarke 0161-206-2939 Email: or

April 2014

Older people wanted for research on new technology

  • Are you over 60 and consider yourself an active consumer?
  • Do you have an opinion on products designed for older people?
  • Do you want to contribute to the design of technology products?

If so, your input is needed for a new and exciting research project focusing on the role of new technology in the lives of older adults!!

  • 1-2 hour interview with researcher
  • Meeting on The University of Manchester Campus
  • Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s (March-May)
  • Light snacks and refreshments will be provided

For more information, contact Willy Barnett on +44 (0) 7447 914 847 or email:

Willy Barnet is a 2nd year PhD student in the Marketing at Manchester Business School. His research focuses on consumer interactions with robots. From Atlanta, GA, Willy possesses a background in engineering and business and he is particularly interested in consumer behaviours of older adults.

New research points to talking-therapy treatments to manage osteoarthritis pain

Scientists have shown for the first time that the abnormalities in the way the brain experiences pain may be to blame for the chronic pain suffered by osteoarthritis patients.

The findings by Arthritis Research UK-funded researchers at The University of Manchester suggest the need for new therapies to target brain mechanisms to enable the brain to cope more effectively with chronic pain, including mindfulness-based talking therapies.  

Chronic pain can affect up to 30% of the population at any one time – with most complaints relating to arthritis. Patients can become more disabled as their pain spreads to other areas and find it difficult to cope as it interrupts sleep and other normal daily routines.

Professor Anthony Jones, from The University of Manchester’s Human Pain Group based at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The extent of pain experienced by sufferers of arthritis has always been thought to result from the direct consequences of joint destruction. However the extent of pain is often poorly related to the amount of damage and can spread to nearby regions of the body where there is no evidence of arthritic disease. We wanted to look at what might be causing this.”

The study, published in the European Journal of Neuroscience recently , measured brain waves in response to short painful laser pulses to the skin in patients with osteoarthritic or fibromyalgic pain and those with no pain. They found that while anticipating the painful pulse a brain area called the insula cortex increased its activity and this predicted the extent and intensity of the patients’ own chronic pain.

The study suggests there are common abnormalities in the way the brain expects pain in fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis - which can be considered potential common brain mechanisms for these conditions.

Professor Wael El-Deredy, from The University of Manchester, added: “More research is needed but this suggests we should be putting more resources into a common approach to developing new therapies that target these potential brain mechanisms.

The paper entitles: "When the brain expects pain: common neural responses to pain anticipation are related to clinical pain and distress in fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis” by Christopher A. Brown, Wael El-Deredy and Anthony K. P. Jones was be published in the European Journal of Neuroscience in  February

For more information, please follow the links below:

Only one fifth of people with hearing problems wear a hearing aid

Just a fifth of people with hearing problems wear a hearing aid, a study by The University of Manchester has found.  

The study, published in the journal Ear and Hearing, looked at the habits of 160,000 people in the UK aged 40 to 69 years. It found 10.7 per cent of adults had significant hearing problems when listening to speech in the presence of background noise - but only 2.1 per cent used a hearing aid.

One in 10 middle aged adults had substantial hearing problems and were more likely to be from a working class or ethnic minority background.

Dr Piers Dawes, from The University of Manchester’s Audiology and Deafness research group, said: “This is the first study to describe the prevalence of difficulties understanding speech in background noise in a large sample of the population, anywhere in the world.

“It shows hearing aids remain significantly under used despite significant improvements in both technology and their provision, and a high proportion of people who would benefit from treatment may not receive effective intervention.

“Reasons for the lack of uptake might be lack of awareness of treatment options, lack of recognition of their difficulties, finding hearing aids uncomfortable or finding them of limited help.”

The University of Manchester team is the first group in the world to gain access to the large UK database from the UK Biobank allowing them to study the habits of 160,000 UK adults.

Professor Kevin Munro, Ewing Professor of Audiology at The University of Manchester who also worked on the study, said: “There still seems to be a stigma attached to wearing a hearing aid, where as there is little stigma now associated with vision loss and wearing spectacles. “This might be because eye care also involves lifestyle choices - it’s available on the high street without the need to see a GP and onward referral to an audiologist in hospital, which emphasises illness and frailty.”

The research entitled: “Hearing in Middle Age: A Population Snapshot of 40 to 69-year-olds in the United Kingdom” was published in the journal Ear and Hearing on 10 February, 2014    

March 2014

Academic begins project aimed at replacing the use of animals in Alzheimer’s research

Dr Chris Ward, Senior Lecturer in Stem Cell Biology, secured £82,000 to look for new ways to study Alzheimer’s disease which do not involve testing on animals. He was awarded the cash-injection as part of the CRACK IT Challenges programme, a technology development platform led by the National Centre for Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs).

Drug development for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has been relatively unsuccessful and the award will provide a platform system to study the condition using induced pluripotent stem cells, which are similar to human embryonic stem cells, isolated from patients. Dr Ward said: “This will allow research and drug development applications to be carried out in a disease model and provides opportunities for the personalisation of drug treatments.”

The study is entitled: “The Development of an Electrophysiology Assay for Alzheimer’s Disease Tauopathy".

For more information, please follow the links below:

How is your skin ageing?

Are you aged over 55yrs? Manchester skin research want to hear from you!

The University of Manchester dermatology group are investigating how skin ages. Skin naturally changes over time, and sun exposure can speed up this ageing process. We are interested in finding out more about this process of 'photoaging'. The team are also looking at how ethnicity may influence skin ageing, and are comparing different skin types (Caucasian, East Asian and Black Afro-Caribbean) in detail.

The team are based at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust and are looking for men and women aged 55yrs+ take part in research. For more information and to find out how to get involved please contact Nurse Gill Aarons:

Tel: 0161 206 1043

Email: / or visit the group's website.

University supports Dementia Friends initiative

The University of Manchester has announced its’ support for Dementia Friends, a Government-funded national initiative run by the Alzheimer’s Society which aims to improve people's understanding of Dementia and its effects.

Dementia Friends is one of the University's Social Responsibility flagship programmes and forms part of the University’s response to the societal challenge of an ageing society.  There are 800,000 people with Dementia in the UK with numbers set to rise to 1.7 million by 2050.  Symptoms of Dementia include memory loss, confusion and problems with speech and understanding. One in three people over 65 will die with Dementia. A Dementia Friend is someone who attends a 50 minute information session and then turns their understanding into a practical action that could help someone with Dementia.

The University aims to recruit at least 30 Dementia Friends Champions from the University during 2013/14 who will receive training from the Alzheimer’s Society.  Following training, each Dementia Friends Champion will commit to deliver a small number of 50 minute lunchtime training sessions during 2014/15 to create more Dementia Friends right across the University. The national scheme aims to create one million Dementia Friends by 2015.

Further details can be found on the Social Responsibility website.

February 2014

Manchester seeks new Chair in Cellular Senescence in Ageing

The University of Manchester is creating a new post of Chair in Cellular Senescence in Ageing as part of its continued expansion into research on ageing. The Faculty of Life Sciences has identified biological ageing as a key strategic priority and invites applications from leading authorities in the field.  Cellular senescence examines how individual cells change as they age, including through damage, changes to metabolism and structure. The deadline for applications is 25 February 2014, informal enquiries can be made to MICRA Co-director Professor Dean

Over one million older people malnourished in the UK

Research shows that over one million people over the age of 65 in the UK are malnourished with the cost of malnutrition in the UK predicted to top £15 billion this year. Dr Mike Stroud co-chair of the Government’s Malnutrition Task Force highlighted the facts from the work undertaken by the task force and the British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (BAPEN) at MICRA’s Ageing, Health and Nutrition seminar on 12 February. According to Dr Stroud, most people don't understand the importance of nutrition in older people, with evidence showing that food is one of the most effective treatments hospitals can offer to ill older people. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) cost saving guidance place malnutrition as the third potential biggest cost saving to the NHS, said Dr Stroud.

John McLaughlin, Professor of Gastroenterology and Nutrition at The University of Manchester, also presenting, stressed the lack of information on the ageing gut and the nutritional needs of older people. He identified the need for research to discover how the function of the gut changes with age including signals between the gut and the brain.

Kirstine Farrer, Consultant Dietician at Salford Royal Hospital, spoke on innovative nutrition service delivery and her upcoming involvement in a national pilot for malnutrition pathway under the auspices of Age UK following Department of Health funding.

January 2014

Ageing experts call for local age-friendly programmes to tackle health inequalities

The British Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences has published a report which sets out nine local actions to reduce health inequalities, including a call from ageing experts Hal Kendig and MICRA Co-director Chris Phillipson for local age-friendly strategies.

The report seeks to help local policymakers improve the health of their communities by presenting evidence from the social sciences that can help reduce inequalities in health.

Hal Kendig and Chris Phillipson’s paper, ‘Building Age-Friendly Communities: New Approaches to Challenging Health and Social Inequalities’, makes the case for implementing locally-based ‘age-friendly environments’ that facilitate improvements in the independence, participation, health and wellbeing of older people, and, in so doing, reduce social and health inequalities.

They argue that place matters, and that older people living in urban areas face specific issues around social integration, access to services, leisure and mobility. They determine that taking action on behalf of (and ideally involving) older people can facilitate social wellbeing, enable them to continue to contribute to the communities in which they live and, crucially, influence healthy life expectancy.  

Their proposal identifies significant opportunities for action on ageing and the built environment that are emerging in the UK, such as the efforts of Manchester and York to become age-friendly cities.

International frailty experts join MICRA

We are delighted to announce that Professors Kenneth Rockwood and Susan Howlett have joined The University of Manchester as part of the University's growing commitment to research on ageing. Both will work under the umbrella of the Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing (MICRA) with a particular focus on frailty.

Kenneth Rockwood is an international authority on frailty and takes up a role as professor of geriatric medicine. His research focuses on the complexity of frailty and the best way to use mathematics to understand common clinical problems of frail older adults, so as to improve their care.  

'I have a long history of collaborations with Manchester, most notably with my former mentor Professor John Brocklehurst’ said Ken, 'I’m very much looking forward to broadening this work as I look to operationalise some of the findings on frailty into clinical practice'. 

Ken has published eight books and more than 350 peer-reviewed scientific publications. Currently, he is co-editor of the 8th edition of Brocklehurst's Textbook of Geriatric Medicine & Gerontology due out in 2015.

Susan Howlett has been appointed professor of cardiovascular physiology. Her research specialises in how heart cells contract, specifically how the electrical signal that initiates the heart beat is translated into the mechanical contraction of heart cells. Most recently, Susan has discovered how to measure frailty in animal models which opens up new insights in ageing. Her laboratory has shown that changes in the structure and function of heart cells, which change with age, are more closely related to an animal’s level of frailty than to chronological age. Work like this can also be developed to improve animal health. 

'I’m excited to be working on extending my research on frailty models in mice to sheep’ said Susan who will be collaborating closely with David Eisner and team in the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences.

Ken and Susan will divide their time between Manchester and Dalhousie University in Canada. Ken is also the Kathryn Allen Weldon Professor of Alzheimer Research at Dalhousie University and physician in the Department of Medicine at Capital Health, Halifax. Susan is a professor in the department of pharmacology at Dalhousie where she leads a research laboratory.

Dementia Law Clinic

A Dementia Law Clinic has been set up at the Legal Advice Centre run by the School of Law of The University of Manchester.

Dementia Law Clinic offers free advice on dementia-related legal issues for both people living with dementia and their families or carers such as:

  • Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA)
  • Provision of care (in relation to care homes)
  • Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)
  • Community Care Assessments
  • NHS Continuing Healthcare
  • Trust and Inheritance probate
  • Court of Protection
  • Disputes of Mental Capacity
  • Disputes of Best Interests for those who lack capacity
  • Advance Decisions (previously known as Advance Directives) to refuse treatment

In order to book your appointment, please call at 0161 275 7976 during term times, Monday to Friday, 10 am – 5 pm. 

You can also send an e-mail to: Key Contacts: Anne Greenhough or Clare Johnson.


December 2013

Making dementia friendly neighbourhoods

A European team of experts led by The University of Manchester will explore, investigate and evaluate the role of the neighbourhood in the everyday lives of people with dementia and their families in a new research project announced during the G8 dementia summit on 11 December.

The ‘Neighbourhoods and Dementia’ study was one of six research projects announced by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) along with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), as part of a £20 million funding boost which will significantly add to the understanding of dementia.

It comes as ministers, researchers, pharmaceutical companies and charities are gathering in London for the summit.

Professor John Keady, lead researcher from The University of Manchester, said: “In our five-year study we want to celebrate the achievements, growth and contribution that people with dementia and their carers make to society.”

There are currently 44 million people in the world living with dementia, and by 2050 this number is set to treble to 135 million. Following on from last year’s announcement by Prime Minister David Cameron of plans to tackle the 'national crisis' posed by dementia, the G8 Dementia summit aims to agree what can be done to stimulate greater investment and innovation in dementia research.

The Manchester-led project will be the first large-scale research programme to work alongside people with dementia and their families in a variety of roles from advisers to co-researchers. As one of its four work programmes, the research team will develop Neighbourhood Profiles using existing longitudinal databases to provide more accurate estimates of geographical variation in cognitive ageing and service use to inform policy, commissioning and practice. As part of the intervention work programme, researchers will develop the first digitalised life story tool for Deaf people (BSL users) who live with dementia.

The research team involves seven universities (Manchester, Stirling, Liverpool, UCL, Salford, Lancaster, and Linköping in Sweden) and four user groups: EDUCATE and Open Doors (Greater Manchester, England); The ACE Club (Rhyl, North Wales) and the Scottish Dementia Working Group (Glasgow, Scotland).

Professor Keady, a mental health nurse with a long-standing practice and academic interest in dementia, said: “One of the exciting parts about this 5-year programme is that we are going to work alongside people with dementia and their families to help undertake all aspects of the research, from the planning to the doing. This will lead to the development of new research tools for use by people with dementia and their families and help to create innovative ways of working.”

Mike Howorth, who has dementia, is one of the people who will work as a researcher and is already employed by Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust where he works with recently diagnosed patients as the Open Doors Facilitator at Woodlands Hospital, Salford. For the last three years, Open Doors has helped to give people with dementia a voice and platform to share experiences and put forward opinions.

Mr Howorth said: “I think the research programme idea is fantastic! I’ve got first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to live with dementia and help those who have it so I know involving people with dementia and their carers will make this project invaluable.”

Other projects funded within the Dementia Initiative will look at: promoting independence in dementia; managing agitation and raising quality of life; living well with dementia; developing a publicly available tool to help meet the future needs of dementia patients and visual aids and the impact they have on the quality of life of patients with dementia and their carers.

ESRC Chief Executive Paul Boyle said: "Dementia is a major challenge for our society, and it is imperative to develop an understanding of the needs of those with dementia, their families and the communities they live in.

"These six funded projects will provide much-needed evidence for changes in future health and social care policy, as well as practical guidance for charities and third sector organisations working with sufferers of dementia.”

For further information about the ESRC announcements, please contact:

ESRC Press Office: 

Sarah Nichols 
Tel: +44 (0) 1793 413122

Susie Watts 
Tel: +44 (0) 1793 413119

For more information about the Neighbourhoods and Dementia study led by The University of Manchester and to request an interview with a dementia patient and/or an academic, please contact: 

Alison Barbuti
Media Relations Officer, Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences
The University of Manchester
Manchester Academic Health Sciences Centre (MAHSC)

Tel: +44 (0)161 275 8383 / 07887 561 318

Notes for editors

  1. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC’s total budget for 2012/13 is £205 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes.

  2. About the NIHR

    The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded through the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research.  Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research.  The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence, and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world.  

    For more information visit the NIHR website via the link below:

  3. The University of Manchester

    The University of Manchester, a member of the Russell Group, is one of the largest and most popular universities in the UK. It has 20 academic schools and hundreds of specialist research groups undertaking pioneering multi-disciplinary teaching and research of worldwide significance. According to the results of the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, The University of Manchester is one of the country’s major research institutions, rated third in the UK in terms of ‘research power’. The University has an annual income of £807 million and is ranked 40th in the world and fifth in the UK for the quality of its teaching and impact of its research.

August 2013

John Brocklehurst: Obituary

John Brocklehurst, professor emeritus and the leading geriatrician of his generation passed away in June aged 89.

John was appointed the first Professor of Geriatric Medicine at The University of Manchester in 1970 from where he led the development of one of the leading elderly care research, education and clinical practice centres in the world. The department was the beacon for the development of elderly care medicine in the North West and greatly influenced the growth of services and research in the UK, Europe and the world.

John was passionate about using science to understand the problems of old age and wrote and published widely and extensively. He wrote seminal papers on urinary and faecal incontinence, nutrition, stroke and elderly care rehabilitation and day hospital services. These were brought together into the standard tome in the field: the Brocklehurst’s Textbook of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology (1973), which is now in its 7th edition and remains the key reference work. He was the role model for many talented people to enter the field, so extending his influence on good care for elderly people and how this will always be driven by integration of high quality basic and clinical research.

Active in research up until his retirement, John would strike everybody who worked with him with the warmth and kindness of his personality. He was remarkable for the time he would set aside for colleagues, and how he always involved and inspired people in the care of elderly people. John excelled as a strategic leader, clinician and researcher with a restless intellect across a wide range of interest, and a vast depth of motivation and determination.

He is survived by Susan, his wife of many years, and their three children.

An extended obituary also appeared in the Guardian in July.

June 2013

CoDE Census Briefing: "What makes ethnic group populations grow? Age structures and immigration"

The ESRC Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) has published a briefing on ‘What makes ethnic group populations grow? Age structures and immigration’ as part of a series on the ‘Dynamics of Diversity: evidence from the 2011 Census’. The briefing follows the changing age structure of each ethnic group in England and Wales from the 2001 Census to the latest Census in 2011 which enables an estimation of the contribution to population growth of international migration, births and deaths.

All non-White ethnic groups in England and Wales have grown in size since 2001 through more births than deaths. Most have also grown through net migration into England and Wales. Age pyramids for the Pakistani, Irish, Indian and ‘Other White’ groups reveal their very different experiences of migration and population change in Britain. Since the Census ethnic group categories are based on streams of migration to the UK in the past 60 years it is not surprising to find that most groups other than White British are young in age structure. In the future, it is likely that the percentage of elderly will also grow for ethnic groups which currently have a young age structure.

To download the briefing and find out more information about the series please visit the CoDE website via the link below:

May 2013

MICRA celebrates 1,000 members with two new Co-Directors

The Manchester Interdisciplinary Collaboration for Research on Ageing (MICRA) has celebrated its’ 1,000th member with the announcement of two new MICRA Co-Directors.

Professors Cay Kielty and Dean Jackson representing the Faculty of Life Sciences have joined the existing leadership team of James Nazroo and Chris Phillipson (Humanities) and Alistair Burns and Neil Pendleton (Medical and Human Sciences) to support the continued development and growth of MICRA across the University and beyond.

Until recently Cay was Associate Dean for Research in FLS and now leads on cross faculty working; she holds a chair in medical biochemistry with a focus on regenerative medicine. Dean is a cell biologist, Head of Section for Cellular Systems and a member of the FLS senior management team.

MICRA has built up a diverse membership over the past 3 years as a network promoting interdisciplinary research on all aspects of ageing. Membership is open to all with an interest in research on ageing and has attracted academics, students, voluntary sector providers, NHS, private sector, government and older people.

The majority of members have attended MICRA events such as a monthly public seminar where academics from different disciplines present alongside practitioners on key issues in ageing. Seminars are now regularly attracting audiences approaching a 100 looking at questions such as ‘Ageing, Dementia, Creativity and Storytelling’ and ‘Population Ageing and the Future of Cities’, and 115 attended last month’s public lecture by Dr Aubrey de Grey.

Marie Curie Fellowship for MICRA and Manchester City Council's Age-Friendly Work

Dr Tine Buffel has been awarded a prestigious EU funded Marie Curie Fellowship for a new research project aimed at improving the age-friendliness of Manchester. Working with MICRA Co-Director Professor Chris Phillipson, Tine’s two year research project will explore older people’s experiences of social exclusion and inclusion in their neighbourhoods, building on her previous work at the Free University of Brussels.

Starting on 1 October 2013, the project is built around the participation and involvement of older people, working in a number of neighbourhoods within the city and involving members of Manchester City Council’s Valuing Older People (VOP) team and network. An important feature of the work is the active involvement of older people as research participants, but also as experts and actors in all stages of the project. Specific outcomes are to improve understanding of the opportunities for older people for engagement and the desire to be engaged, and to inform age-friendly policies and practices.

Tine joins fellow new recruit Dr Sophie Handler, Research and Planning officer at Manchester City Council’s Valuing Older People team, a joint appointment with The University of Manchester from 1 May. Also supervised by Chris Phillipson, Sophie has a PhD in architecture and supports the UK Urban Ageing Consortium and leads on the research and evaluation framework for age-friendly cities.

Tine and Sophie’s appointments support a growing body of work led by Chris Phillipson around the relationship between population ageing and urbanisation, exploring questions about the impact of cities on older people.

April 2013

Mental Health and Ageing Research: White Rose INitiative (MARWIN)

Wednesday 10th April 2013 saw Sheffield host the 4th conference in the collaboration between the Universities of Sheffield, York and Leeds. Mental Health and Ageing Research: White Rose INitiative (MARWIN) launched in October 2011 and is represented by six PhD students and their supervisors across the three Universities. Dr Alan Marshall, a fRaill researcher, gave a presentation highlighting a selection of research findings from the fRaill project.

March 2013

New publication by Professor Chris Phillipson

Chris Phillipson’s new book Ageing has been published by Polity Press. The book examines a range of topics including demographic change across high and low-income countries, theories of social ageing, changing definitions of ‘age’, retirement trends, family and intergenerational relations, poverty and inequality, and health and social care in later life. The book also considers the key steps necessary in preparing for the social transformation which population ageing will bring. Further details are available on the Polity Press website.

February 2013

Seedcorn funding awards

MICRA is pleased to announce that five exciting research projects have been funded through the MICRA 2012 Seedcorn calls.

The joint MICRA/ Manchester City Council award went to a consortium lead by Dr Kostas Arvanitis and will examine digital cultural engagement of older audiences in conjunction with key cultural bodies in the city including the Manchester Museum and the Manchester Art Gallery.

Tanja Bastia from The University of Manchester will be exploring how elderly people experience and deal with the lack of care resulting from the emigration of the younger generation.

Emma Ferguson-Coleman from The University of Manchester will be leading a team looking into a dementia information portal, ideally with a mobile app, that will share information about dementia in British Sign Language.

Dr Emma Stanmore, University of Manchester, will be looking at the use of virtual gaming to enhance physical activity levels amongst older people.

Wuqiang Yang will be working with Hugh Devlin, both from The University of Manchester, to conduct a feasibility study of a real time visualisation tool for total hip revision related to ageing.

Visit the link below for details about each of the successful projects:

January 2013

Professor Nazroo appears on BBC Breakfast

Professor James Nazroo, MICRA Co-director, appeared on the BBC Breakfast programme live on BBC1 on Thursday 24 January. He was discussing the idea that 40% of women born today will live until they are 100.

New Co-Director of MICRA

Professor Chris Phillipson has been named as a MICRA Co-director. Since joining The University of Manchester in November as Professor of Sociology and Social Gerontology, Chris has had a very active role within MICRA and we are delighted that he is taking on this new role. Working alongside existing co-directors Professor James Nazroo, Professor Alistair Burns and Dr Neil Pendleton, Chris will provide strategic input as MICRA continues to expand and grow. Chris was the founding director of the Centre for Social Gerontology at Keele University (1986 – 1997) and is a former President of the British Society of Gerontology.


December 2012

Life Long Health and Wellbeing Conference - Edinburgh

CCACE Showcase Meeting: The impact of ageing research

From the 4th - 5th of December, the Life Long Health and Wellbeing Conference was taking place in Edinburgh. The Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology (CCACE) was showcasing the work of the Lifelong Health and Wellbeing (LLHW) initiative, the cross-Research Council programme led by the Medical Research Council (MRC) which funds CCACE. Researchers showcased the impact of their research and its implications for society.

James Nazroo, Krisztina Mekli, Bram Vanhoutte, Alan Marshall and Neil Pendleton travelled up to represent fRaill. The trip was worthwhile as their papers were well received and Krisztina's poster won 2nd prize.

PhD Research Project: Does sexual function and satisfaction offset declines in physical and mental health with ageing?

The main objective of this PhD proposal is to explore how sexual function and satisfaction interrelate with physical health, emotional wellbeing and quality-of-life during middle and older age. Data will be available from two prospective observational studies of ageing to examine the central hypothesis that higher levels of sexual health are associated with enhanced physical and emotional wellbeing and improved quality-of-life, both cross-sectionally and longitudinally. 

This 4-year full-time studentship provides full support for tuition fees, minimum annual tax-free stipend of 13, 590 and a conference/travel allowance. The project is due to commence October 2013 and is open to UK/EU nationals only due to the nature of the funding 

The successful candidate will benefit from extensive training in epidemiologic methods, social statistics and longitudinal data analyses/interpretation. This will provide an ideal platform to progress onto a postdoctoral academic career, NHS consultancy and/or policy.

For more information please visit the Find A PhD web site:

£5.2 million to improve understanding of ageing immune system

A team of researchers from The University of Manchester, working with the University of Warwick, have been awarded £5.2M to investigate our immune response and how it is affected by ageing. The research focuses on a signalling system called 'NF-kappaB' which plays a key role in regulating how our immune system responds to diseases. Incorrect regulation of NF-kappaB' has been linked to cancer, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, viral infection and improper immune development.

Principle Investigator, Professor Michael White of The University of Manchester, explains: "As we get older our immune system tends to get weaker and it becomes increasingly difficult to shake off diseases. At the same time we tend to develop arthritis and other auto-immune diseases."

"We know that NF-kappaB plays an important role in these immune responses and determines the fate of cells in the body by switching genes on or off, but we don't know how this process is controlled through normal life."

"We will investigate how NF-kappaB signalling is controlled within the body, by processes like cell division cycle and the sleep-wake cycle of the 24 hour circadian clock. This is vital if we are to understand how and why our immune system falters with age."

A multidisciplinary team of scientists (consisting of physiologists, biologists, mathematicians and computer scientists) will use cells from specially bred mice to understand the NF-kappaB response to a variety of stimuli.

The data from this research, and other published data, will be used to build integrated mathematical models that can predict important aspects of cell, tissue and animal physiology relevant to understanding the maintenance of a healthy organism and how this may change with age.

MICRA and Ageing in Research 

This session hosted by MICRA (Manchester Interdisciplinary Collaboration for Research on Ageing) as part of artsmethods@manchester aims to introduce participants to the field of ageing research, and working with researchers from across all disciplines to address the big questions in ageing. MICRA seeks to develop the next generation of interdisciplinary researchers in the field of ageing, and this session will be led by Dr Neil Pendleton, MICRA Co-Director and senior lecturer in geriatric medicine.

Population ageing and the impact this will have on society is central to policy, academic and public agendas, and will be for the foreseeable future. Funders and practitioners increasingly require academics to move beyond their discipline to explore questions which older people are grappling with day-to-day. Using his experience of a large interdisciplinary research project on frailty and wellbeing, Neil will highlight the challenges and benefits of interdisciplinary research in the field of ageing. Students will have an opportunity to experience interdisciplinary research design experience using a case study with input from a medical perspective.

Date: Monday 10 December
Time: 14.00 - 16.00
Venue: 3.9 Roscoe Building, University of Manchester

To book a place at this session please visit the artsmethods@manchester site:

November 2012

'Who wants to live forever?: Challenging myths in human ageing'

MICRA's new University College Course entitled 'Who wants to live forever?: Challenging myths in human ageing' still has places available. This course starts in January 2013 and is aimed at all 2nd year undergraduate students at The University of Manchester. It will grant access to leading international speakers from across a range of disciplines including Professor Chris Phillipson,Professor James BanksProfessor James Nazroo and Professor Armando Barrientos. It will also give students the platform to work with older people in a variety of environments and share their experiences with their peers. Furthermore, with ageing becoming a priority for businesses and the Government, this course will enhance future employability.

BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) Studentships

Five BBSRC studentships relating to ageing are available:

  • Exploring the effect of ageing on the host-microflora axis in skin health and repair – Dr Matthew Hardman, Dr Andrew Mcbain
  • Deciphering how natural genetic variability affects ageing in C. elegans – Dr Gino Poulin, Dr Chris Knight
  • Are two hemispheres better than one? Using neuroimaging and neurostimulation to understand age-related changes in lateralisation – Dr Laura Parkes, Dr Anna Woollams, Prof Shaheen Hamdy
  • The potential relationships between hormone biomarkers and functional and health outcomes of ageing – a multinational longitudinal cohort study of healthy ageing in men – Prof Fred Wu, Prof Royston Goodacre, Dr Gindo Tampubolon
  • Systemic reprogramming of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) levels during ageing – Dr Gino Poulin, Dr Alan Whitmarsh

Developing age-friendly cities: Policy challenges and options

This view point for the Housing LIN by Professor Chris Phillipson (Sociology and Social Gerontology), provides a 'tour de force' on the development of age-friendly cities within a global urban context. Launched at the Age-Friendly Manchester conference this month, it suggests that the approaches adopted in the UK require better understanding and elaboration at both a conceptual and operational level to ensure that we provide meaningful improvements to the quality of life for older people living in our cities.

The document can be downloaded via the link below:

University partners with Manchester City Council to develop Age-Friendly Manchester

Professor Chris Phillipson hosted a major event on 5 November aimed at making city life better for older residents with Manchester City Council's Valuing Older People team. The one-day conference ‘Developing Age-Friendly Cities: Planning Urban Environments’ was part of the 10th annual nationwide Festival of Social Science organised by the Economics and Social Research Council, and brought together a range of practitioners and researchers in urban design and planning from the UK and abroad to discuss the latest initiatives and thinking behind the planning of age-friendly urban environments.

The Manchester Town Hall event is part of an ongoing programme of work between the University and Manchester City Council investigating different ways in which cities can respond to an ageing population. Chris Phillipson, Professor of Sociology and Social Gerontology, said: "Developing new age-friendly approaches in the planning and design of urban neighbourhoods will be a crucial task for urban development and the vitality of urban life in the years ahead. Key speaker Ruth Finkelstein, Director of 'Age-friendly New York', sharing how the US city is being adapted for older residents. Dr Finkelstein, who is also the Senior Vice President for Policy and Planning at the New York Academy of Medicine, shared good practice in improving the life of older people living in cities, citing initiatives including a focus on ensuring accessible ‘sidewalks’, shops signing up to offer older shoppers a seat and a glass of water, and age-friendly parks.

Councillor Sue Cooley, Manchester City Council's lead member for Valuing Older People, said: "Manchester is trail blazing the way as a progressive city in identifying the needs of its older population. It's vitally important that people start thinking about how their own cities might become an Age-Friendly City. We support all programmes and initiatives that encourage innovative and creative thinking on how we might make our cities more age-friendly." Two years ago Manchester was named as the first UK city to be recognised as an Age-Friendly City by the World Health Organisation and last month Manchester launched its Age Friendly city programme focusing on the needs of older people in Manchester.

Professor Phillipson has recently joined The University of Manchester as part of the University’s growing commitment to research on ageing.

Professor Chris Phillipson

We are delighted to announce that Professor Chris Phillipson has joined The University of Manchester as part of the University's growing commitment to research on ageing. Chris began his new role as Professor of Sociology and Social Gerontology on 1 November 2012, and will be working closely with MICRA.

Chris was previously Professor of Applies Social Studies and Social Gerontology at Keele University where he was founding Director of the Centre for Social Gerontology (1986-1997), Dean of Research for the Faculty of Social Sciences and Pro-Vice Chancellor (2005-2009). Additionally, Chris is a former President of the British Society of Gerontology and has recently been appointed a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America. His major research work has been in the field of ageing where he has led a number of research programmes investigating issues relating to pre-retirement education, family and community life in old age, problems of social exclusion, and issues relating to urbanisation and migration.

October 2012

Dr David Lee

Congratulations to Dr David Lee, Research Fellow in Epidemiology, who has been awarded a prestigious Age UK Fellowship. Working with Professor James Nazroo, Dr Lee's three year fellowship will investigate how sexuality influences and relates to health, wellbeing and quality-of-life in mid to old age. The primary data source will be the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), a multidisciplinary study that has collected detailed information every two years since 2002 on the health, wealth and social circumstances of a representative sample of men and women (around 12,000 individuals) in England aged 50 and over.

A recent report by the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) has found that one in six people in England aged over 50 are socially isolated with few socially orientated hobbies, little civic or cultural engagement with society, and may have very limited social networks.

ELSA Wave 5 Report Published

A report using data from the fifth wave of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) was published on 15 October 2012, authored by Manchester academics James Banks and James Nazroo, along with Andrew Steptoe from UCL. ELSA was designed to understand the unfolding dynamics of ageing and the relationships between economic circumstances, social and psychological factors, health, cognitive function and biology as people move through retirement into older age. This report focuses on in-depth analyses of three issues of current scientific and policy importance: - Pension wealth and contribution dynamics - Social detachment - Health and wellbeing. The data from ELSA are used widely by academic scholars and policy makers interested in this critical period of life, since the study provides crucial evidence that is relevant to decision-making in the arena of public policy and to research in economics, health, biology and social sciences.  

May 2012

'Volunteering is good for your health, but undervalued says Manchester research for WRVS'

WRVS has published a new study which finds that older people who volunteer are less depressed, have a better quality of life and are happier. As a result of cuts, older people's health is at risk and this study highlights that volunteering offers a new route to improving their wellbeing but it is an opportunity being missed by many local authorities. For more information about the study and its results please visit the link below:

February 2012

PhD studentship available

PhD studentships available with Dr Neil Pendleton & Dr D Lee, School of Medicine - Does sexual function and satisfaction offset declines in physical and mental health with ageing? - Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only).

Application deadline: 6th March 2012

For more details please visit the Find a PhD website via the link below:


December 2011

PhD Studentship Available

PhD studentship available with Dr Neil Pendleton, Prof Shaheen Hamdy & Prof Bill Ollier - Unravelling the genetic basis for cortical plasticity in the human swallowing motor system - Funded by Neuroscience Research Institute, University of Manchester.

August 2011

Research reveals genetic link to human brain function in older adults

(Press Release: 9 August 2011)

University of Manchester scientists, working with colleagues in Edinburgh and Australia, have provided the first direct biological evidence for a genetic contribution to people's cognitive function.

August 2011

Manchester bags 3 million to research ageing

(Press Release: 28 July 2011)

Two university research projects have scooped almost 3 million from a national initiative tackling the major challenges faced by people in their later years: