What drives and motivates you? Childhood ambition, making the world a better place? Fame and glory? In this blog Professor Louise Serpell shares her own personal journey to becoming a scientist
As part of National Careers Week, NIHR Dementia Researcher, Alzheimer's Society, Alzheimer's Research UK, Race Against Dementia, Dementias Platform UK and the Dementia Research Institute are working together to encourage young-people and undergraduates to consider a future in dementia research. National Careers Week (NCW) is a celebration of careers guidance and free resources in education across the UK. The aim is to provide a focus for careers guidance activity at an important stage in the academic calendar to help support young people leaving education.
- Blogs - Inspirational blogs and articles written by early career dementia researchers, talking about their work and careers, and sharing how you could follow in their footsteps - all our blogs also include author narrations, so you can listen or read - if you have questions, you can post those in reply to the articles too. We also have a series from Morgan Daniel, following life as she moves from Scotland to London to student Dementia Care and Neuroscience.
- Webinars - A schedule of live webinars, which bring together researchers from different areas of discovery to share what they do, how they got there, and taking your questions - themed around lab research, technology, creative arts, psychology and healthcare, and if you need inspiration or background on the disease, out webinar on Monday features people directly affected by the disease talking about it, and why research is important (you can register for these below, or if you missed the date, visit our YouTube channel to watch live or the recordings).
- Podcasts - Below is a podcast we recently recorded with three Neuroscience MSc Students sharing information on their studies and student life at UCL, follow the link to access over 100 of our previous shows, and hear from over 200 researchers discussing what they do, and ways they have found to cope with studying. - this includes shows on how to decide on your career path.
- Tools & resources - We have spend some time curating and collating links to lots of other websites and tools that will be useful to anything considering a careers as a dementia researcher. We have the online interactive career planner from the MRC, guidance for overseas students, links to job and funding articles and much more. Looks around, and get the support you need.
- Further Education - We have created a directory of all the Higher and Further Education Courses we could find across the UK. Take a look and find a course that suits you and your interests.
Why is dementia research important
Dementia is not a natural part of ageing – We all forget a name or a face sometimes. Especially as we get older. But dementia is something different, memory problems are one of a number of symptoms that people with dementia may experience. Others include difficulties with planning, thinking things through, struggling to keep up with a conversation, and sometimes changes in mood or behaviour. Dementia is devastating, around 850,000 people are living with the disease in the UK and it is now the leading cause of death for both men and women. Despite this, we still do not fully understand what causes the disease, there is no cure, and it has been 16 years since any new drugs were licensed to treat the disease. Additionally, we are only now starting to understand how we can best care for and support people who have a diagnosis, and what could be done to prevent the disease in future generations.
The only way to tackle this condition is through research! Learning what is going on in the brain, is one of the keys to unlocking the solution to eradicating the disease. Along with learning how to prevent, diagnose, provide better care, treat and supporting people living with the disease.
Why you should consider becoming a dementia researcher
We need more young-people and undergraduates to follow a path into a career in dementia research.
Here are three reasons:
- You will be helping to make people's lives better! You can be sure that whatever you do, your research can make a difference, understanding the brain, developing new treatments, learning how best to care for people, code data - you can make a difference.
- There are over four cancer researchers for every one dementia researcher, and it costs the economy £26bn a year. The UK government has committed to doubling the amount of funding available for dementia research, when this funding is combined with the potential for discovery, this is an exciting time for dementia research, and the brain is the one part of the human body we still know so little about.
- Everyone can utilise their talents, and it's more than just a job. Scientists, Artists, Nurses, Psychologists, Coders, Communicators, Musicians, Doctors, Technologists - find your own path, with our help.
For many people the first steps to becoming a dementia researcher is through education. If you just graduated from University, this could be in undertaking a postgraduate course, or if you're returning to education through a diploma or continuing professional development. In this podcast we spoke with three MSc Students from University College London - studying Dementia and Neuroscience. Hear them discuss their career paths, studies and what motivated them to follow this path.
When Sam was waiting to go into his interview he was thinking “I am not a neuroscientist, this could be a tricky one”, he quickly realised that what they actually wanted was a fresh approach. So don’t be deterred from applying for that job or course, you might be just what they’re looking for.