With our 2024/25 grant round officially open for application, Professor Gill Livingston shares her thoughts on shifting Alzheimer’s Society’s research focus towards more clinical, translational research, centred around greater research participation and researcher support.
Alzheimer’s Society Grant Advisory Board Chair
Gill Livingston is a Professor of Psychiatry of Older People at University College London and remains a committed clinical academic who has dedicated her career to working with people living with dementia and their families.
She leads the Lancet standing committee on dementia prevention, intervention, and care; and, in the UK, she also leads the Strategies for Relatives (START) programme, which promotes coping strategies for carers of people with dementia.
Professor Livingston is also a co-chief investigator on two other projects; DREAMS START and ENHANCE. The DREAM START project aims to help people living with dementia tackle their sleep difficulties; and the ENHANCE project aims to develop and test a scalable coached intervention to prevent cognitive deterioration in people at risk of dementia.
Since May 2021, Professor Livingston has been the Chair of Alzheimer’s Society Grant Advisory Board (GAB). This board advises Alzheimer’s Society on research funding decisions and the management of our existing portfolio and is made up of leading experts in dementia research.
My biggest motivation to be the Chair of Alzheimer’s Society Grant Advisory Board is the Society’s commitment to support early career dementia researchers. We need to nurture new generations of researchers to continue our progress and ensure a future of great dementia research.
Supporting early career researchers
Alzheimer’s Society is committed to supporting early career researchers (ECRs), recognising them as the future of dementia research. The Society wants ECRs to thrive in dementia research and to become the dementia research leaders of the future.
Alzheimer’s Society’s research strategy emphasises the importance of funding ECR projects to inspire a new generation of talented researchers to focus on the field of dementia research throughout their careers. To further cement this ambition, last year Alzheimer’s Society awarded funding to 21 ECRs across 24 new research grants.
Acting as the Chair of Alzheimer's Society Grant Advisory Board, I am constantly seeing great research being funded. These funding decisions can be really difficult, especially when seeing researchers with such incredible potential and ideas.
Last year, the investment of over £8 million into dementia research broke Alzheimer’s Society’s previous record for investment into brand new research in a single year.
This is an exciting time for researchers, including ECRs, to apply for the funding that Alzheimer’s Society provides to help their research develop into tangible results through a variety of biomedical and clinical grant funding.
We see a great diversity of applications we receive, both in subject and scale. These can range from investigating the role of mitochondria in disease, to evaluating big population data. We also receive applications for smaller, pilot studies as well as fully developed project proposals.
Funding impactful, high-quality research
Funding projects which aim to answer all key pieces of the dementia puzzle is a major strength of Alzheimer’s Society’s research programme.
Projects funded by the Society range from understanding the causes of the diseases that lead to dementia, to developing new treatments and improving how we care for people living with dementia. This is why Alzheimer’s Society is committed to funding the highest quality, most impactful research.
We need research which has a vision. Even with prevention strategies, some people will develop dementia. They, and their families, need the best help for the complex symptoms of these devastating diseases. This help will come from high-quality care and translational clinical research, which will set us on a path of developing strategies that show efficacy. Implementing the results from such valuable research will help people living with dementia.
There are various funding schemes within Alzheimer’s Society’s funding programme that researchers may be interested in. These range from career development grants, which aim to help researchers work towards their research independence; to clinical training partnerships - the goal of which is to increase the number of clinicians and healthcare professionals in dementia research.
Here at Alzheimer’s Society, we always want to be better. We are constantly learning how to make the application process better. We are committed to providing more feedback, more standardised interviews, and having a better understanding of different career trajectories.
People affected by dementia at the centre of Alzheimer’s Society’s research
By working alongside and in collaboration with people affected by dementia who are themselves lived experience experts, Alzheimer’s Society funds high quality scientific research which addresses the most important concerns and challenges faced by people living with dementia.
Alzheimer’s Society empowers people affected by dementia to be a force for change by reviewing and monitoring important research that will benefit people living with dementia now and in the future.
This is why Alzheimer’s Society works in collaboration with their Research Network Volunteers, enabling them to regularly meet with researchers and lend their lived experience directly to their work. It is also why Alzheimer’s Society is a founding partner of Join Dementia Research which allows people to participate in dementia research themselves should they wish to.
People affected by dementia are a vital part of the research projects funded by Alzheimer’s Society. People affected by dementia are lived experience experts, they know what needs are unmet, and what is important in dementia research. They are a tremendous help to researchers, especially ECRs, providing a different angle to their project design, and advising researchers on how to make their research more accessible. This changes the research and the researcher in a positive and enriching way.
Alzheimer’s Society’s research strategy
Alzheimer’s Society mission is to continuously grow and understand the most pressing challenges in dementia research that funding programmes should address. The Society’s research funding programme is constantly evolving, with the main focus being delivering lasting impact for people living with dementia through research.
The research funded by the Society closely aligns with six transition points that have the biggest impact on people living with dementia, outlined in Alzheimer’s Society’s current organisational strategy:
- Getting a diagnosis
- Adjusting to living with dementia
- Needing greater support with care
- Needing an alternative home
- End of life
By involving people affected by dementia, and applying what has been learnt from their lived experiences, Alzheimer’s Society can understand what research is still needed to deliver the biggest real-world impact for people affected by dementia.
Working together, Alzheimer’s Society, dementia researchers, and people affected by dementia will revolutionise dementia diagnosis, improve person-centred care and develop effective treatment options for generations to come.
Our research grants
Read about the funding schemes we have for researchers, learn about our application process and submit an application for our 2024/25 grant round.