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University of Exeter gets £1 million NIHR funding

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A million-pound grant from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) will fund ground-breaking research that aims to deepen knowledge about blood pressure in older people, with a view to identifying disease earlier.

The funding has been awarded to Dr Jane Masoli, Senior Clinical Research Fellow at the University of Exeter and Consultant in Geriatric Medicine with Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. The research, funded by the NIHR Advanced Fellowship, will analyse routinely collected data from more than 2.5 million participants and from the world class UK Biobank cohort.

By the age of 70, 70 per cent of people have been diagnosed with high blood pressure. Some people get new diagnoses of high blood pressure in older age, while in others blood pressure falls over time. Over the seven-year project, Dr Masoli and colleagues aim to test whether these blood pressure declines could help with early identification of serious conditions such as dementia, frailty, heart failure and cancer, leading to earlier treatment.

Findings will inform future clinical trials on earlier detection of underlying disease and personalised blood pressure treatment plans in healthcare systems around the globe.

Dr Masoli said: ‘NIHR funding has enabled me to pursue research training alongside my clinical training. I’m delighted to have been awarded this prestigious advanced fellowship, allowing me to continue my research as a consultant geriatrician. It’s fantastic seeing ageing and multimorbidity become national research priorities and this new funding will progress my research on blood pressure, frailty and co-morbidity in older adults. This work will further our understanding in blood pressure changes in older age and help inform future clinical trials to improve safe, personalised blood pressure management in older age.’