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ARU receives The Queen's Anniversary Prize

Published: 26 November 2021 at 15:00

An older person playing the piano

World-leading music therapy research is recognised with major honour

Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) last night received The Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its world-leading music therapy work – and in particular its research with people living with dementia, and their families.

The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes recognise outstanding work by UK universities and colleges that shows the highest levels of quality and innovation and delivers significant public benefit. The Prizes are the highest national honour awarded in UK higher and further education, and are granted by The Queen every two years.

ARU’s Cambridge campus is home to a music therapy clinic and research institute, the Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research, which has a team of 30 researchers, including 20 PhD students at any one time, and is the largest and most influential research unit of its kind in the world.

ARU was the first university in the UK to offer MA level music therapy training and over the last 25 years ARU researchers have developed world-leading expertise and driven innovations in global policy and practice, including research into music and the brain.

ARU’s ground-breaking work has contributed to the Music for Dementia Commission in the House of Lords in 2018, and to changes in the NICE guidelines for dementia in 2019, recommending music therapy for people with dementia for the first time.

The researchers have formed more than 20 partnerships with organisations including Alzheimer’s UK, the Britten Pears Foundation, the Max Planck Centre in Germany, Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, and a number of other universities across the world, as well as several NHS Trusts and care providers, including MHA Care Homes.

ARU is currently leading the UK arm of one of the largest non-pharmacological trials ever carried out in music therapy, led by the University of Melbourne, Australia. Called HOMESIDE, the international study involves 1,000 participants, and is testing new approaches for carers and their loved ones living with dementia at home.

Music therapists from ARU also work with the Saffron Hall Trust to provide music therapy for people with dementia and their carers. World-class performers, including members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Britten Sinfonia, regularly take part in the weekly Together in Sound sessions in Saffron Walden.

Professor Helen Odell-Miller OBE, Director of ARU’s Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research, said:

“On average, someone in the UK develops dementia every three minutes and it is expected to become the 21st century’s biggest killer. 

“At ARU, our important research examining the benefits of music therapy for people living with dementia is already beginning to influence national policy.  Receiving recognition like this, from The Queen, will hopefully further signal the importance of our findings to policymakers both in the UK and abroad.”


Professor Roderick Watkins, Vice Chancellor of ARU, said:

“I’d like to congratulate and thank Professor Helen Odell-Miller OBE and her team, whose outstanding work has secured us this recognition.  

“More importantly, of course, their expertise, passion and dedication has had a life-changing effect on tens of thousands of people living with dementia, and their families – and that’s something of which we can all be hugely proud.”

Explore music therapy at ARU

Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research is dedicated to advancing the understanding of music therapy and its ability to affect positive change on health and wellbeing. Find out more about the Institute's research, including its work on health ageing and dementia.

We continue to offer our renowned Masters degree in Music Therapy, as well as supporting PhD research.