£1m appeal launched to help find bone disease cures in Norfolk

Artist impression of the Norfolk Bone and Joint Centre at Norwich Research Park.

Artist impression of the Norfolk Bone and Joint Centre at Norwich Research Park. - Credit: Archant

A new £1m appeal has been launched tonight to help find cures and new treatments for chronic bone diseases in Norfolk.

More than 150 new science jobs will be created by the £19m Norfolk Bone and Joint Centre at the Norwich Research Park in Colney.

The facility, which is a joint venture between the University of East Anglia and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, will be dedicated to researching and finding new treatments for diseases including osteoporosis, arthritis, joint replacements and the bone disorder Paget's Disease.

It will be based in the state-of-the-art Norwich Medical Research Building, which is due to be constructed between August 2013 and September 2014. The building will also house world-leading scientists specialising in three other particular fields; prostate cancer, nutrition and health, and microbiology.

The Bone and Joint Centre will be led by Prof Bill Fraser, professor of medicine at UEA, who will head up the centre's research team.

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Prof Fraser said: 'When one considers the health needs of an ageing population, it's very clear that the chronic diseases of bone and joint are incredibly important to the individual, and of course extremely costly to the state, both in terms of surgery costs and care in the community. By supporting the new expert clinical research here we have a real opportunity to develop the knowledge necessary to prevent these diseases in the future, and improve their treatment now.'

The UEA and NNUH have funded more than £16m of the total £19m cost of the research building, and the Bone and Joint Appeal hopes to raise £1m through donations from the local community and charitable trusts, with a further £2m in philanthropic gifts from corporate investment, national foundations and UEA alumni being sought.

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Pioneering research and treatment for musculoskeletal disorders have a long history in Norfolk. Sir James Paget, who discovered Paget's disease, was born in Great Yarmouth. Norwich has a long and proud tradition of innovation in total hip replacement, which was pioneered by Ken McKee and John Watson-Farrar, in the 1960s, with the tradition being maintained by Keith Tucker and the late Hugh Phillips.

Keith Tucker, consultant orthopeadic surgeon and founder of local trust Action Arthritis, said: 'Norfolk has a proud history of innovation in the musculoskeletal field and to see the vision of the University and the Hospital taking forward world class research together into these diseases is fantastic – it means that Norwich will remain at the forefront of medical discovery for many years to come. We are all extremely proud to be part of this appeal, and we urge everyone who can to help with a donation.'

Anna Dugdale, chief executive of NNUH, said: 'The new building is a clear demonstration of the very close partnership between the hospital and the university. It brings with it exciting opportunities to benefit our patients and the wider community through the research and teaching it will enable.'

For more information about the Norfolk Bone and Joint Centre or for details on how donations to the fund, visit www.uea.ac.uk/boneandjoint

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