Guest blog

Guest Blog – Dr Ellen Dicks, reflecting on year one as a RAD Fellow

Blog by Dr Ellen Dicks

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Race Against Dementia is a global charity, founded by Sir Jackie Stewart to accelerate dementia research by instilling Formula One principles of fast-paced innovation and implementation. Providing funding for five years, Race Against Dementia gives early-career researchers the time to investigate bold ideas. Collaboration is essential in fast-tracking research and so international collaborations and secondments are highly encouraged. For example, I will split my time working at the Alzheimer Centre in Amsterdam and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester under the RAD-Mayo Fellowship.

My research is focused on the biological basis of brain connectivity loss in Alzheimer’s disease. For normal cognitive functioning brain areas need to communicate with each other. In Alzheimer’s disease this communication (or connectivity) is disrupted early in the disease, potentially leading to cognitive decline. This makes brain connectivity a promising treatment target, but it is currently unclear what the biological basis of brain connectivity loss is. This is a crucial step in order to prevent brain connectivity loss and subsequent cognitive decline. For this, I am investigating brain connectivity networks in Alzheimer’s disease patients and healthy individuals and I use different approaches, such as graph theory and modeling techniques.

Next to supporting us to focus on our research and fostering us as a team, RAD also offers excellent professional and personal developmental programs. This year alone we were already able to benefit from ongoing leadership training, performance coaching and presentation training. Training that Formula One drivers receive as well, and that not only focuses on our professional development but also on our well-being, in order to increase our performance. Our input in what we want and need to learn for our future careers is also highly encouraged – which again shows how supportive und unique this fellowship program is.

The Race Against Dementia is not stopping. And so, RAD is again inviting early-career researchers to join the RAD team. I encourage everyone who is looking for a highly inspiring fellowship to apply. Having joined the team myself only six months ago, I already gained many invaluable experiences for my future career, and I cannot recommend the RAD fellowship program enough.

For more information on the Race Against Dementia and Alzheimer’s Research UK Fellowship (closing date 20th January 2021) visit their website.


Dr Ellen Dicks

Dr Ellen Dicks in 2016, Ellen began her PhD research at the Alzheimer Centre Amsterdam to investigate the relationship between brain connectivity and cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease. After completing she successfully applied to become a Race Against Dementia Fellow working to better understand the biological basis of brain connectivity loss in Alzheimer’s disease. Splitting her time between the Alzheimer Centre in Amsterdam, and at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, USA.



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