Professor Craig Ritchie
Professor of the Psychiatry of Ageing: University of Edinburgh
Director: Brain Health Scotland
Chairperson: Scottish Dementia Research Consortium
Place of work / study:
The University of Edinburgh and Brain Health Scotland
Area of research?
Translational Epidemiology, Cohort Studies (PREVENT and European Prevention of Alzheimer’s Dementia [EPAD]) Chief Investigator – exploring risk-mechanism-phenotypic neurodegenerative interactions in mid-life, Clinical Trials.
How is your work funded?
Various: Alzheimer’s Society, Alzheimer’s Association, MRC/Wellcome, Innovative Medicines Initiative (EU Fund), Philanthropic and Commercial
Tell us a little about yourself:
Born in Aberdeen, Graduated from Medical School there in 1991 and spent all my early career research and clinical career between London (UCL) and Melbourne (University of Melbourne), Senior Lecturer at Imperial College (and R&D Director at West London Mental Health Trust; Deputy Director at London NW CRN; Frailty Lead: North London CLAHRC) – given roles in clinical, governance, network leadership and academia – fused together a passion for getting ‘research into practice’ for tangible and transformational impact. Back to Scotland in 2014 to Chair at University of Edinburgh and helped establish in 2018 Brain Health Scotland which was officially launched in 2020.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself:
My dad used to say to me when a small child growing up: when I said ‘This isn’t fun’ – he said “Who said that life was meant to be fun?”. To which I’ve been raging to prove him wrong ever since – if work and life doesn’t have some fun in it then we will never truly achieve anything of value.
Why did you choose to work in dementia?
I chose to work in brain health and dementia simply because I think it is a responsibility of a clinical academic to try and help those most disadvantaged and within medicine I saw that older people, people with mental health difficulties and people from more deprived socioeconomic backgrounds were suffering a triple-whammy (and I do mean ‘suffering’) of pressures that came together in neurodegenerative diseases. Then I wanted to prevent them!
What single piece of advice would you give to an early career researcher?
Write down at the beginning of your career what motivates you to do what you’re doing and when it gets really tough later on look back at this – my own personal view is that it is always more of a motivation to help other people than to help yourself – keep hold of that because I can promise you when you get to a senior position in academia you can start to fulfil all the passion that got you started on your journey in the first place. My mantra comes from Springsteen: Nobody wins unless everyone wins…