Selecting the Dementia Research Institute Director

Our Research Network volunteers had a key role in appointing this influential scientist.

Earlier this year, Alzheimer's Society announced our involvement as a founding partner in the £250 million Dementia Research Institute, in collaboration with the Medical Research Council and Alzheimer's Research UK.

This institute will support large programmes of research across the UK, funding research into dementia care and public health as well as biomedical research.

A major aspect of the Society's involvement in the Dementia Research Institute is to make sure that the voices of people affected by dementia shape its work throughout.

Over the past six months, we have been developing plans to involve people in meaningful ways, and in September 2016 we held our first activity - recruiting the institute's Director.

An interview panel

To ensure that people affected by dementia had their say, we set up a 'lay' interview panel of six people with dementia and carers. This panel met shortlisted candidates to hear about their plans for the institute and ask them questions.

Before the first interview, the lay panel decided to focus its questions on:

  • The candidates' views on what should be the priority in dementia research.
  • The use and sharing of patient data.
  • How to encourage more diversity in research participation.
  • The role of patient and public involvement in the institute.
  • The candidates' approach to communication.

Candidates gave a short presentation at the start of their interview by the lay panel, and the panel's questions inspired fascinating and varied conversations.

The lay panel fed back on each candidate and its chair, Research Network volunteer Sara Gregson, presented a report to the broader recruitment panel.

Sara said, 'It was an honour to be asked to chair the lay interview panel and to hear and speak to the potential candidates - all of whom had significant backgrounds and experience in dementia research.

'At the end of the day, it was my job to present our advisory findings to the recruitment panel. I had five minutes to summarise what we had done and the highlights from each candidate, ending up with our conclusions of who might be the best person for the job from our perspective. They reacted warmly to our conclusions!'

A fantastic candidate has been selected to lead the UK's first dedicated Dementia Research Institute. We hope to be able to announce the new Director before Christmas, and tell you more about them in the next issue of Care and cure.