Author J.K. Rowling has recently donated £15.3 million to research at the University of Edinburgh’s Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic.
The Clinic was opened in 2010 in the name of J.K. Rowling’s mother, who had died of complications relating to multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1990. When Rowling turned 45, the age at which her mother had died, she donated £10 million to the university to found the Clinic. The Clinic is established as an integrated care and research facility specialising in neurodegenerative diseases including MS, motor neurone disease (MND), Parkinson’s disease and dementia.
Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that affects around 127,000 people in the UK and has unknown causes. It is a condition in which the insulation on neurons (a fatty substance known as myelin) is damaged, resulting in disruptions in nervous communication throughout the body. This can have severe implications, including trouble with sensation and coordination. Current research indicates that MS may be caused by faulty myelin-producing cells or be an autoimmune disease.
The Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic is home to a number of ground-breaking studies, including those relating to drug efficiency, patient experience and the role of various biochemical markers in MS. Professor Siddharthan Chandran, Director of the clinic, said: “Our research is shaped by listening to, and involving, individuals who are living with these tough conditions. The Anne Rowling Clinic’s vision is to offer everyone with MS or other neurodegenerative diseases, such as MND, the opportunity to participate in a suite of clinical studies and trials.”
J.K. Rowling’s donation will support research projects across the Clinic, including those that focus on the invisible disabilities of those who live with MS, such as cognitive impairment and pain.
She said: “When the Anne Rowling Clinic was first founded, none of us could have predicted the incredible progress that would be made in the field of Regenerative Neurology, with the Clinic leading the charge.”
Rowling talked of supporting the Clinic as it opens up a “new phase of discovery and achievement”. The Clinic is currently recruiting participants for diverse projects, such as the implications of psycho-philosophical theories of mind on MS development and the role of the microbiome in MS. It is also building a database of clinical examinations, brain imaging and genetics, to help predict the severity of individual cases of MS.
With its combination of clinical and academic excellence and patient-centred care, there is no doubt that the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic will continue to push the frontiers of research into neurodegenerative conditions. Rowling stated “It’s a matter of great pride for me that the Clinic has combined these lofty ambitions with practical, on the ground support and care for people with MS, regardless of stage and type; I’ve heard at first-hand what a difference this support can make.”
Written by Harin Wijayathunga and edited by Tara Wagner-Gamble