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Catch-up on the BSMS Dementia Research Conference 2023

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BSMS Dementia Conference 2023

The Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) 2023 Dementia Research Conference was held on the 29 – 30th March 2023, hosted by Dr Dorina Cadar, Senior Lecturer in Cognitive Epidemiology and Dementia, Centre for Dementia Studies, BSMS.

The event focused on advancing our understanding of dementia and exploring innovative approaches to diagnosis, treatment, and care. This conference brings together renowned experts, researchers, clinicians from both BSMS and from around the world to share their insights, latest research findings, and best practices in the field of dementia.

The recordings below cover a wide array of topics include breakthroughs in dementia genetics, novel imaging techniques for early diagnosis, emerging therapeutic interventions, innovative care models, and strategies for supporting individuals with dementia and their families. The conference also addresses the social, ethical, and policy implications of dementia research, providing a comprehensive and holistic approach to the topic.

The Brighton and Sussex Medical School is known for its strong focus on dementia research and its commitment to improving the lives of individuals affected by this condition. The school’s expertise, combined with the collective knowledge and experience of the conference speakers and attendees, makes this event a valuable platform for sharing insights, fostering collaborations, and inspiring innovation in the field of dementia research.

Speaker Biographies

Dr Dorina Cadar, Senior Lecturer in Cognitive Epidemiology and Dementia, BSMS – Dr Cadar is the director of the Cognitive Epidemiology, Dementia, and Ageing Research (CEDAR) lab. She is the Principal Investigator of several grants, including ‘Cognitive reserve and dementia’, funded by Alzheimer’s Society, and ‘Social determinants of dementia in the UK and Japan, funded by the UKRI. Dr Cadar is a Co-Investigator of international grants funded by the ESRC, the National Institute on Aging, the Canadian Institute of Ageing Research and the Japanese Institute of Health. Dr Cadar’s research interests and expertise are in the field of cognitive epidemiology and dementia, including immunology, biomarkers, socioeconomic inequalities, psychosocial factors, and other modifiable risk factors, such as lifestyle behaviours, social isolation, cognitive and social resilience.

Professor Naji Tabet, Professor in Dementia and Old Age Psychiatry and Director of the Centre for Dementia Studies (CDS), BSMS – Professor Tabet also leads the Dementia Theme at the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) KSS, and the CDS research is closely aligned with ARC KSS Dementia Sub-themes. Prof Tabet is also the Dementia Speciality Co-Lead for NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) KSS. A major interest for the Centre for Dementia and its research staff is the investigation of quality of life and non-pharmacological interventions in the field of dementia. Prof Tabet has also been the Principal and UK Chief Investigator on over 35 Phase II-IV therapeutic and diagnostic clinical trials in dementia. The CDS involvement in clinical randomised trials is carried out through the Dementia Research Unit at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, supported by a dedicated clinical research team working with Prof Tabet.

Professor Malcolm Reed, Dean, BSMS – Professor Malcolm Reed attended school in Birmingham and subsequently qualified in medicine from the University of Sheffield in 1981. He then underwent surgical training in Birmingham, Derby and Bristol before moving to the University of Louisville in the United States to undertake a research MD. He returned to Sheffield and undertook higher surgical training before becoming appointed a Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant Surgeon at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in 1992. He was then appointed to the Foundation Chair in Surgical Oncology at the University of Sheffield, taking up the post in 2000. Subsequent roles included Head of Academic Surgery and Head of the University Department of Oncology. Professor Reed was appointed Dean of Brighton and Sussex Medical School in 2014.

Professor Andrew Dilley, Head of Neuroscience Department, BSMS – Andrew Dilley is Professor in Neuroanatomy and Head of the Department of Neuroscience at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS). He completed a BSc in Anatomy and Development Biology at University College London (UCL) and went on to undertake a PhD in neurophysiology at Kings College London, focussing on the mechanisms underlying the peripheral neuropathy, Guillain-Barré syndrome. Following completion of his PhD, Andrew returned to UCL as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow within the Department of Physiology. At UCL, he established his interest in peripheral neuropathic pain mechanisms. Following this post, he took a position at Harvard Medical School, in Boston, as an Instructor in Anesthesia. During his time at Harvard, he continued his laboratory research into the role of peripheral neuroinflammation in chronic musculoskeletal pain. Andrew joined BSMS in 2007, where he now leads a research team studying the role of peripheral neuroinflammation in chronic musculoskeletal pain. Previous roles at BSMS include leading years 1 and 2 (Phase 1) of the undergraduate medical programme.

Elise Armsby, Dementia Research Unit – Elise Armsby graduated from the University of Essex in 2015 with a BSc in Psychology and most recently in 2022 with a PGCERT in Dementia Studies from the Brighton and Sussex Medical School. She was first introduced to working with people living with dementia through caring roles and a healthcare assistant role on Brunswick Ward at Millview hospital before her Research Assistant role at the Dementia Research Unit in 2019. Elise has since worked towards her current Clinical Research Coordinator role and both coordinates the smooth running of and supports the various studies running at the Dementia Research Unit.

Katy Seedhouse, Dementia Research Unit – Katy Seedhouse is a registered adult nurse who has enjoyed a wide variety of experiences over recent years, through which she has developed a keen interest for dementia. Katy has recently joined the research team at the Dementia Research Unit and is passionate about recognising and celebrating individuality and supporting those living with dementia to live life to the full. In her role as Clinical Research Coordinator, Katy is involved with various tasks relating to commercial and non-commercial clinical research trials.

Katherine Sykes, Applied Research Collaboration Implementation Lead – Kath Sykes is a nurse by background, and has worked in the NHS in London and Sussex for over 25 years, leading clinical teams, services, and clinical research activity. Across the wider system Kath has worked in quality and patient safety and supporting spread and adoption of innovation through the AHSN. Kath works with all stakeholders (workforce and service users) across Kent, Surrey and Sussex as well as nationally, to ensure that their needs and their voice are integral to the research the ARC does and the solutions they seek to implement.

Azeezat Aminu, Implementation Research Assistant – Azeezat Aminut is an Implementation Research Assistant for the Living Well with Dementia theme (ARCKSS). Azeezat has a passion for research in cognitive and behavioural neuroscience, immunopsychiatry, and psychology, and has been co developing the my choice booklet to support people live well with dementia.

Gill Livingston, Professor of Psychiatry and Older People, University College London – Professor Gill Livingston is a clinical academic, working with people with suspected or confirmed dementia and their families. Her work is interdisciplinary and considers mechanisms through epidemiological and biopsychosocial enquiry, using them to co-design evidence-based interventions and test them. She led the Lancet Standing Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care, 2017 and 2020. These produced new research and meta-analyses of life-course risk and an overview of current knowledge on interventions. The findings have substantial implications in preventing and delaying a significant proportion of dementia. They have resulted in changes in UK and US policy which aim to reduce dementia risk. She also researches interventions to improve the lives of people with dementia and their families and staff caring for them and particularly consider underserved and minority communities. START for family carers has long-lasting effects on depression and anxiety symptoms, increases quality of life, is cost-effective and might save money.

Professor Carol Holland, Lancaster University – Professor Carol Holland, PI of the Cognitive Frailty Interdisciplinary Network is Professor in Ageing in the Division of Health Research at Lancaster University, Director of the Centre for Ageing Research (C4AR) and Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Health and Medicine at Lancaster University.  Her previous roles include Director of Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing (ARCHA) and academic roles at Aston, Manchester, Warwick and Leeds Universities. She is currently President of the British Society of Gerontology, the national learned society representing researchers in ageing across disciplines.  Carol is a psychologist whose research focuses on applied impacts of cognitive and health psychology of ageing and multidimensional models of frailty.

Dr Nourah Alruwais, Assistant Professor in Neuroimaging (MRI) and Diagnostic Radiology, Health Science Department – Dr Nourah Alruwais is an Assistant Professor in Neuroimaging (MRI) and Diagnostic Radiology, King Saud University. Her areas of expertise include Neuroimaging, Diagnostic Radiology, and Medical Imaging. Before completing her PhD, she was a lecturer at King Saud university since 2008.

Dr Faith Matcham, University of Sussex – Dr Faith Matcham is a Health Psychologist and digital mental health researcher with a specialist interest in digital technologies, mental health and comorbidities. Her main area of interest is using commercially available technologies to improve measurement and management of long-term illnesses, and provide targeted, tailored interventions. She has published extensively, and presented at international conferences throughout her career, as well as delivering workshops and training to clinicians and early career researchers in the use of digital technologies to improve research protocols and clinical practice.

Julia Fountain, Dementia Consultation Group, Sussex – Julia Fountain co-ordinates Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s Dementia Consultation Group – a group of people with experience of living with dementia. Some of the group members have a diagnosis of dementia and some have experience through caring for a partner or family member who has dementia. The group’s role is to talk to researchers about their research and to advise them from a lived experience perspective.

John Gallacher, Professor of Cognitive Health, Director Dementias Platform UK, University of Oxford – John Gallacher is Professor of Cognitive Health at Oxford University and Director of Dementias Platform UK (DPUK), a MRC-funded public-private partnership focused on accelerating research into the early detection and treatment of dementia. An expert on the determinants of mental and cognitive wellbeing, and the use of data at-scale, Professor Gallacher holds a visiting professorship at Imperial College London and an honorary professorship at the University of Hong Kong. He is the Principal Investigator for the Caerphilly Prospective Study (CaPS) and the BrainWaves study of adolescent mental health. He is a member of the SAIL Scientific Advisory Board and the KREMBIL Research Institute Scientific Advisory Board, and was a member of the UK Biobank steering group between 2010 and 2022.

Dr Jorge Magenti, Alzheimer Research UK – Dr Jorge Gomez Magenti graduated in Chemistry at the University of Valencia (Spain) before coming to the UK for a PhD in Organic Chemistry at the University of Cambridge. After some time in science innovation consulting, now Jorge now does (responsible) research impact evaluation at Alzheimer’s Research UK, working to communicate the value of the research they fund to their supporters and the public. Having experienced research culture first-hand for years, Jorge’s dream is to improve the work environment and quality of life of the next generation of scientific leaders, at the same time that they continue to fund the best science possible to deliver much-needed treatments to dementia patients.

Sebastian Köhler, Associate Professor Neuroepidemiology, Alzheimer Center Limburg and the School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, the Netherlands – Sebastian Köhler co-leads the research line Neuroepidemiology, where they conduct population-based and clinical research into the aetiology and course of psychiatric and neurological disorders. Most studies focus on dementia, stroke and depression. Their aim is to understand heterogeneity among individuals and population mixtures in order to develop new (primary, secondary, tertiary) prevention strategies and help people grow old with good mental and brain health. Sebastian teaches at FHML in the Bachelors/Masters Medicine, Health Sciences, Movement Sciences and Biomedical Sciences and at FPN in the Research Masters (A, B and C roles) and supervises Master and PhD students. In addition, Sebastian teaches Epidemiology in the Distance Learning program of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Professor Hiroyasu Iso, Director of Institute for Global Health Policy Research (iGHP), Tokyo, Japan – Professor Hiroyasu Iso, received his doctoral degree in Medical Science (corresponding to PhD) from the University of Tsukuba in 1986 and the Master of Science degree in Epidemiology and Public Health (corresponding to MPH) from the University of Minnesota in 1988. He was fellow researcher at the University of Minnesota (1988-1988), physician at Osaka Medical Center (1988-1990), Assistant Professor (1990-1993) and Associate Professor (1993-2002) at the University of Tsukuba, visiting Associate Professor at Harvard University (1996-1997), Professor at the University of Tsukuba (2002-2004), the Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tsukuba (2004-2005) and Professor of Public health, Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka university in July 2005, and the current position of iGHP. Professor. Iso served as Vice Dean at the Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka University (2013-2015). His international activities include the position of a WHO scientific adviser for non-communicable diseases. His research field has been epidemiology and prevention of lifestyle-related disease (hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes, cerebrovascular disease and ischemic heart disease as well as dementia).

Dr Dalia Tsimpida, Lecturer in Public Health, University of Liverpool – Dr Dalia Tsimpida holds the position of Lecturer in Public Health at the University of Liverpool and is an Associate Fellow and Chartered Member of the British Psychological Society as well as a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Over the past decade, her research has focused on the social epidemiology and public health aspects of hearing loss, with a particular emphasis on the relationship between socioeconomic inequality and hearing loss, as well as the impact of hearing loss on mental health in older adults and on accessing healthcare services. Dr Tsimpida has received recognition for her pioneering research, including the International Society of Audiology Scholarship 2020 and the Scientific Award 2021 in Computational Audiology.

Professor Robert Stewart, King’s College London – Rob Stewart is Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology and Clinical Informatics, and is Theme Deputy Lead of Informatics in the Maudsley NIHR Biomedical Research Centre. He has been Academic Lead for the Maudsley’s Clinical Record Interactive Search (CRIS) platform since its development in 2007/8. CRIS is an internationally unique data resource comprising de-identified full electronic mental health records from the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (over 500,000 patients) with extensive enhancement through multiple data linkages and natural language processing (‘text-mining’) algorithms. CRIS has been used extensively for research to improve the understanding of mental health conditions and mental healthcare services, and has supported over 250 peer-reviewed publications. Rob Stewart joined the Institute of Psychiatry as a junior researcher in 1996 and has worked on the epidemiology of dementia and other late-life mental disorders and on a range of International Mental Health initiatives, as well as his more recent activity in Clinical Informatics. He is a practising Consultant in Liaison Old Age Psychiatry.

Dr Stephanie Daley, Time for Dementia, BSMS – Dr Stephanie Daley is the Operational Director for the Time for Dementia, and is the programme lead for the Time for Autism educational programme. Stephanie completed her PhD at Kings College London in 2014, and is an Occupational Therapist by background. In October 2022, Stephanie took on the role of Reader in Mental Health and Dementia at BSMS.

Dr Ben Hicks, DETERMIND Study Team, BSMS – Dr Ben Hicks is a Research Fellow and the Co-ordinator of the ESRC/NIHR funded DETERMIND research programme. This is a 5-year longitudinal study, led by BSMS, that seeks to examine and address the inequalities and inequities in the post-diagnostic care pathway for newly diagnosed people with dementia and their care partners. The research is based across 3 NHS sites within the UK (Sussex, South London and Gateshead) and is a collaboration of multiple academic partners including University of Sussex, London School of Economics, Kings College London, University of York, Newcastle University and the University of Cambridge. Prior to joining the Centre for Dementia Studies at BSMS, Ben was a Psychology Lecturer at Bournemouth University, where he also studied for his PhD.

Dr Elizabeth Ford, Primary Care and Public Health, BSMS – Dr Elizabeth Ford is Reader in Health Data Science at Brighton and Sussex Medical School and Lead for Data Science in the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration in Kent, Surrey, and Sussex. She has more than 10 years’ experience analysing primary care and mental health patient data and linked routinely collected health data, with extensive experience in public engagement and understanding health data governance risks and solutions. She has led projects developing risk prediction and early disease detection models in mental health and dementia; current projects include developing methods to examine health inequalities, multi-morbidity and frailty as risks for late diagnosis and poor outcomes in cancer, dementia and cardiovascular disease, using linked patient data.

Professor Eddy Davelaar, Birkbeck College, University of London – Professor Eddy Davelaar (Ph.D. 2003, Birkbeck) is a Professor at Birkbeck College, University of London. He runs the Dynamic Memory and Cognition Laboratory that focuses on human memory and its interactions with other cognitive domains. The work involves mostly computational methods and behavioural experimentation. He is a member of the Cognitive Science Society.

Professor Esme Fuller-Thomson, Director Institute for Life Course and Aging, University of Toronto, Canada – Esme Fuller-Thomson is Director of the Institute for Life Course & Aging at the University of Toronto. She is cross appointed to the Faculties of Social Work, Medicine, and Nursing at the University of Toronto.  Her research on dementia has focused on temporal trends in the prevalence of serious cognitive impairment and the link between sensory impairment and dementia.  She has published more than 180 articles on social determinants of later life health including publications in The Lancet and New England Journal of Medicine. Her research has been widely cited in the media including the New York TimesTimes of LondonForbes, and Time Magazine.

Carmen Natalie Monique Colclough, University of Sussex – Carmen Colclough is a doctoral researcher at the University of Sussex, funded by the DETERMIND project. Her work primarily focuses on how people with dementia and informal carers cope together as a dyad. She is interested in the coping strategies used by dyads and how they may be associated with wellbeing outcomes for both people with dementia and their carers. Her research aims to identify ways we can support dyads to ‘live well’ together in the community.

Professor Itamar Ronen, Director Clinical Imaging Science Centre, BSMS – Itamar obtained his PhD in Physical Chemistry from the School of Chemistry in Tel Aviv University, where he worked with Prof. Gil Navon on developing a method for indirect NMR detection of 17O. Following a post-doctoral fellowship at the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research at the University of Minnesota with Dr. Seong-Gi Kim and Dr. Dae-Shik Kim, he obtained his first academic position at the Boston University School of Medicine, and there, together with Dr. Dae-Shik Kim, he co-founded the Center for Biomedical Imaging and a secured a Master’s degree in Bioimaging. In 2009 Itamar moved to the Netherlands, where he joined the C. J. Gorter Center for MRI at the Leiden University Medical Center as PI and Associate Professor, focusing mostly on developing methods for diffusion of intracellular metabolites in humans at ultrahigh field, and recently on developing spectroscopic techniques suitable for low field MR (0.05T). Since October 2021 he holds the positions of Academic Director of the Clinical Imaging Science Centre and Chair in Medical Physics at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School in Brighton, UK.

Professor Ramin Nilforooshan, Consultant Psychiatrist, NHS Foundation Trust – Professor Ramin Nilforooshan is a Consultant Psychiatrist in Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS FT and is a Visiting Professor at the University of Surrey. He is the Director for Research and Development in his organisation; a role which involves the safety and accuracy of clinical trials. He is the Principal Investigator and Chief Investigator for a number of national and international clinical trials and has considerable experience running clinical trials. His main research is on using IoT (Internet of Things) and AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology for dementia care.

Dr Malgorzata (Gosia) Raczek, Old Age Psychiatrist, NHS Foundation Trust – Dr Raczek is an Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer at Centre for Dementia Studies (CDS) and a module leader for the MSc in Dementia Studies. She is also a clinical academic consultant in Old Age Psychiatry at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, where she works in Memory Assessment Service in North West Sussex and Dementia Research Unit (DRU) in Crowborough. Gosia is a PhD student at the Clinical Imaging Sciences Centre working on a study of brain structure and connectivity in neuropsychiatric symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and an investigator on studies run by DRU and CDS.

Professor Alan Gow, Heriot-Watt University – Alan Gow is a Professor of Psychology at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. He leads the Ageing Lab exploring lifestyle factors that protect or harm the ageing brain. He is interested in modifiable factors including activity participation and social networks, as these provide targets for intervention. Ensuring research has impact is a priority, and he contributed to SAPEA’s “Transforming the Future of Ageing” report and the Global Council on Brain Health. Alongside his research, Alan leads various outreach activities sharing what we think benefits brain health, ranging from talks with older people’s groups, performances at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and media contributions. Those activities have been recognised by the British Psychological Society Public Engagement and Media Award in 2016, and as one of two runners-up in the 2019 Nature Research Awards for Driving Global Impact.

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