£5 million investment in next generation of dementia researchers

From care and cure magazine Spring 2015, find out about our commitment to increasing dementia researchers.

The biggest ever commitment to early-career researchers in dementia in the UK has been announced by Alzheimer's Society. The funding will create a network of doctoral training centres at universities across the UK to encourage young scientists to tackle some of the most pressing issues in dementia.

The doctoral training centres will cover both biomedical and care research, recruiting 53 PhD students from a variety of academic and clinical backgrounds. Over £3.2 million of the investment was provided by Alzheimer's Society, with an additional £1.6 million awarded through matched commitments from universities.

The centres include:

  • At Newcastle University, researchers will collaborate to understand the distressing non-cognitive symptoms of dementia with Lewy bodies
  • Researchers at the University of Sussex will study a gene that increases the risk of Alzheimer's disease by up to 10 times
  • Scientists at four Scottish Universities (Edinburgh, Aberdeen, St Andrews and Dundee) will look at how heart health and high-fat diets affect the risk of developing dementia
  • PhD students at the Universities of Nottingham and Worcester will explore the benefit of creative art activities for people with dementia and their carers
  • University of Bradford researchers will study how to improve the transitions experienced by people with dementia between different care settings to improve quality of life
  • Researchers at University of Southampton will explore how to enable people with dementia to take calculated risks in daily life, such as travelling on their own, in order to maximise control and independence  
  • PhD students at University of Exeter will study dysfunctional brain networks in dementia using a range of approaches including mathematical modelling, brain scans  and experiments with brain cells in a dish
  • PhD students co-ordinated by the University of Cambridge will build on the 20-year Cognitive Function and Ageing Studies to look at the impact of lifestyle and cognitive health on the risk of developing dementia

Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at Alzheimer's Society, said:

'There's a huge amount of progress being made by the dementia research community but unless we attract and train the best young talent we will limit how quickly we can make ground breaking discoveries. For too long dementia research has been underfunded and, as a result, we have significantly fewer scientists than other conditions, with six times more people working in cancer than dementia.

'If we're going to defeat dementia we need to give the best brains the right opportunities and build a research workforce that is fit for the future. That's why we’re proud to be announcing the largest investment of its kind, which will see £5 million committed to create the next generation of dementia researchers. People with dementia deserve nothing less than an all-out fight back against the condition and our doctoral training centres will help us enlist the right people to lead it.'

Further reading