Meet the researchers from our Dementia Research Leaders programme
Learn about the researchers who are part of our Dementia Research Leaders programme, which supports early career researchers from biomedical, clinical and social science backgrounds.
Focusing on dementia care research
Dr Nathan Davies
PhD studentship from 2022 to 2026
'We want to understand how we can have more open conversations about dementia in general practice.
The support from Alzheimer’s Society is vital in order for us to develop and promote best practice in care and support for all of those affected by dementia.
'We want to look at how GPs can discuss how dementia develops and engage with people living with dementia to plan for their future care. We hope to provide a support package for GPs to encourage advance care planning.
‘There are limited opportunities for PhD studentships, and it is brilliant the Alzheimer’s Society have this year prioritised early career researchers in the field of dementia both cure and care.’
Dr Nicolas Farina
PhD studentship from 2021 to 2024
'The aim of this research project is to better understand what factors are associated with dementia related stigma in young people.
The involvement of Alzheimer’s Society enriches the research through the involvement of its Research Network Volunteers, who ensure that the findings remain meaningful.
'Alzheimer’s Society, its advocacy work and network also means that the findings can be shared to those who would benefit the most from the research.
'The knowledge gained will help researchers, educators and advocates to better understand how and why stigmatising attitudes towards dementia form, which would allow evidence based interventions to be developed.'
Alzheimer’s Society Clinical Fellow from 2021 to 2024
'My aim for my research project is to help people living with dementia to have a real voice in what exercise classes consist of and how they are provided. This makes sure that classes are accessible and inclusive for all.
'Exercise classes are not for everyone, but for people who enjoy them and want to take part, a diagnosis of dementia should not be the reason why they stop.
The real benefit of Alzheimer’s Society research funding is the role that people affected by dementia play at all stages of the process.
'Prior to my funding application I sought advice from the Research Network Volunteers about my idea to see if what I thought was useful research, was what people with dementia wanted.
'Alzheimer’s Society puts people affected by the research at the heart of their processes. It is really important to me that my research is used for the benefit of people living with dementia and not just done to be put on a dusty shelf somewhere.'
Focusing on biomedical dementia research
Dr Keeley Brookes
Alzheimer’s Society Project Grant from 2021 to 2024
'It has become clear that the damage to the brain which eventually leads to dementia, starts decades earlier than when the symptoms show.
'The aim of my research supported by Alzheimer’s Society is simply to develop a genetic test that can identify people at high risk of developing this disease early in life, so that interventions can be made and delay or even prevent the onset of damage and symptoms. It is hoped that by identifying the genes involved it might lead us to new therapies that can do this.
'This is the first major project grant I have obtained and therefore signals the start of my independent research career.'
This project grant has given me confidence that I can make a difference, and that I might make a significant contribution to dementia research.
Dr Gemma Lace
PhD Studentship from 2021 to 2024
'Our research aims to study the contents of small extracellular vesicles from human brain tissue to see if they can shed light on why abnormal protein ‘junk’ isn’t cleared from the brain. We also hope to assess the ability to differentiate between different types of dementia.
Not only will this funding help shed light on some key research questions, but it will be used to train up a passionate young dementia researcher in the area of molecular bioscience and science communication.
'Our research team are extremely active with respect to outreach and public engagement and being part of Alzheimer’s Society will help broaden our reach and maximise the impact of the work we do.'
Professor Paul Morgan
PhD studentship from 2022 to 2024
'Genetic studies have changed how we think about Alzheimer's disease, highlighting different ways in which the disease might be caused and treated.
Without this funding, we would not be able to expand our research to include this interesting genetic hit.
'Among the identified hits was a gene called Clu which encodes a plasma protein called clusterin. Our research project aims to understand how Clu is involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. By better understanding the different causes of dementia, we can develop better treatments in the future.'
Meet a few of our previous Dementia Research Leaders
Dr Michael Craig
Alzheimer’s Society Clinical Fellow from 2016 to 2022
'Recent research from our lab has shown that if people with Alzheimer's disease simply rest quietly for a few minutes after learning something new, they can remember learned information much better.
'My project aims to understand how consolidation becomes more vulnerable to disruption in people with Alzheimer's disease and why a short rest after learning has such a beneficial effect on memory.
'I will combine sensitive memory testing methods with state-of-the-art brain activity recording methods, using an EEG scan. This will enable me to establish the brain activity that is associated with the consolidation of new memories. I will then examine how this brain activity changes in Alzheimer's disease and what effect rest has on consolidation-related activity in the brain.
'If we are able to show that the severe memory problems in Alzheimer's disease are related to a specific disease-related change in the consolidation of new memories in the brain, we may be able to identify new targets for potential drugs to support memory.'
Dr Gemma Roberts
Alzheimer’s Society Clinical Fellow from 2016 to 2020
'Accurate diagnosis at an earlier stage is also good news for people currently living with dementia as there is more time to get treatment and make plans for the future.
'I am a nuclear medicine physicist - a type of healthcare scientist specialising in medical imaging using radioactive tracers, which produce signals that can be detected by special scanners. This method can help us to see how particular areas of the body are working and detect if there is something unusual, indicating a disease.
'In 2016 I was delighted to be awarded an Alzheimer's Society healthcare professional training fellowship, which offers the chance to apply my skills to try to improve dementia diagnosis and to develop as a researcher within the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University.
'We are investigating whether these scans using radioactive tracers are able to distinguish between people with MCI due to Lewy body disease and people with MCI due to Alzheimer's disease.
'If we can diagnose people with MCI correctly then this will be very useful in the future as more drugs to treat the specific diseases (Alzheimer's and Lewy body disease) begin to be developed and tested. Previous studies suggest that any treatment to stop dementia developing will need to be given early on, so we will need tests to show whether people have early-stage Lewy body or early stage Alzheimer's disease.'
You can read more about Gemma Roberts in this article from Autumn 2019.
Investing in Dementia Research Leaders
Learn more about how Alzheimer's Society invests in Dementia Research Leaders of the future.
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