Newcastle has a long history as a centre of international excellence in muscle disease diagnosis, care and research.
First established as the Muscular Dystrophy Laboratories at Newcastle General Hospital, the team here has grown over the years and now comprises a group of experts across many fields within muscular dystrophy who together form the John Walton Muscular Dystrophy Research Centre.
Whilst we are structured around five core areas of clinical care, diagnostics, basic research, clinical research and networks and collaborations it is the significant and important level of collaboration and linkage between these areas that is responsible for the success of the team as a whole.
One of the great strengths of the Centre is its multidisciplinary and cooperative approach, both within the team at Newcastle and with other leading experts around the world.
Genetic neuromuscular disease includes some very rare conditions and it is through establishing these partnerships that the biggest strides towards improving diagnosis, care and treatment for patients can be made.
The John Walton Muscular Dystrophy Research Centre team are members of the MRC Centre for Neuromuscular Diseases, a joint enterprise between University College London and Newcastle promoting translational research in neuromuscular diseases. The MRC Centre is a major source of support for activity in Newcastle, including the MRC Centre Biobank and for activities in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). It also funds several PhD and clinical students in various disease areas.
In addition to this the team has, in the past five years, trained more than 20 visitors from five continents. Thanks to extensive international networking, in recent years the Centre has also become recognised for its leadership in the rare disease field more broadly and has become part of major global rare disease initiatives including the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health and the International Rare Diseases Research Consortium.
Professor Volker Straub leads the John Walton Muscular Dystrophy Research Centre and holds a joint appointment between Newcastle University and the NHS. With over 300 publications, Volker’s time is split between research and clinical commitments, all of which have a focus on neuromuscular disease whilst providing leadership across the five strands of the Centre.