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Former Prime Minister David Cameron has become the new President of Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity.

Mr Cameron made dementia a major focus of his time in office, launching the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge in 2012 and starting a drive to deliver improvements in care and research.

He officially took up his new role, the highest level of ambassador to the charity, at a visit to its Cambridge Drug Discovery Institute.

The former Prime Minister toured one of Alzheimer’s Research UK’s three Drug Discovery Institutes, during which he heard from scientists who are working to fast-track research breakthroughs into new treatments for people with dementia.

David Cameron said: “Tackling dementia was a major focus while I was Prime Minister, and although improvements in attention and research innovation have been rapid, it remains one of our greatest health challenges.”

Among those welcoming the appointment was Shaheen Larrieux, a Champion of Alzheimer’s Research UK. Four years ago her mother Hosna was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, a rare form of dementia with distressing symptoms including personality changes and aggressive behaviour.

She said: “It was a long hard struggle to understand that Mum has a degenerative brain disease, and it’s heartbreaking to know that there are no treatments that can help her. Alzheimer’s Research UK’s work is absolutely vital: we must find a cure for dementia, and I’m thrilled to see David Cameron supporting the charity in this way.”

Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “We have a clear focus on pioneering research, working with leading scientists across the UK and the world. We are committed to bringing together the brightest minds and most innovative ideas in powerful collaborations that reach breakthroughs faster.”