Researching how Alzheimer’s develops and better ways to diagnose and monitor it

Meet Ash Venkataraman, Alzheimer’s Society Clinical Research Fellow at the UK Dementia Research Institute, Imperial College London.

Favourite things? 

  • Song – Feeling Good, versions by both Nina Simone and Muse.
  • Way to spend time – Being with family, which usually involves taking the children to the park.
  • Memory – I have two favourite memories, when both children were born.
Ash Venkataraman

Why dementia research? 

I feel that the work is so interesting and rewarding.

I enjoy listening to patients’ and their relatives’ stories about what has happened over their lives.

I also like linking this to the detail of the underlying biology of how people think, feel and behave. 

Also, the potential to make a translatable difference in the future to many people, or even help prevent dementia and its symptoms occurring, is something that excites me.

How has Alzheimer’s Society supported your work? 

They’ve been kind enough to provide me with an Alzheimer’s Society Clinical Research Training Fellowship to support my research – a huge highlight of my research career to date. 

What are you currently working on? 

Three main things:

  • Using machine learning – a type of artificial intelligence (AI) – to boost the diagnostic power of an amyloid PET brain scan. This would support a clinician when they’re making a diagnosis.
  • Understanding the underlying mechanisms of Alzheimer’s. Specifically, I’m looking at cell stress (how brain cells respond to damage), what happens within cells to mitochondria (which help convert energy), the loss of synapses (where messages are transmitted between brain cells) and identifying vulnerable pathways within the brain.
  • Understanding the microscopic structure of synapses in further detail, and developing accessible and scalable ways to monitor how Alzheimer’s progresses and responds to potentially new treatments. 

What difference do you hope this will make? 

This work has helped provide a more accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and identified underlying mechanisms that are potentially more vulnerable to disease. 

In the future, targeting these mechanisms may help prevent the devastating symptoms associated with it. 

In what direction would you like to take your research in future? 

I’d like to investigate some of these discoveries in more detail, and also translate them further into the clinic, where they can be used to help treat and support people. 

We are moving into an era of precision medicine, and dementia is no different. We need to be able to treat the right patient at the right time in their illnesses with the right medication. 

To achieve this will involve developing precise treatments as well as better diagnostic frameworks. This will be helped by both advances in drug development, imaging and AI, and other exciting fields that are yet to emerge.

How can you help?

Your donation brings us one step closer to better diagnosis and treatment for people living with dementia.

Donate today

Dementia together magazine

Dementia together magazine is for all Alzheimer’s Society supporters and anyone affected by the condition.
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Dementia together magazine is for all Alzheimer’s Society supporters and anyone affected by the condition.
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