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Training

We provide a wide range of tailored specialist training and career development opportunities, with vital input from our Early Career Researcher (ECR) Network. We aim to equip our ECRs with the skills to face challenges and act on opportunities throughout their career – including building confidence, developing public speaking skills, preparing for the next stage of their career and tips for securing funding.  We are also determined to support researchers at critical times of their career, such as the transition to becoming an independent researcher. Through initiatives such as our Emerging Leaders programme and tailored training (e.g. EMBO lab leadership course), we empower our researchers to become the next generation of leaders in dementia research.
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Tools

Over the past decade, we have seen rapid and significant advances in technology, allowing us to drill down with incredible focus into the complex diseases that cause dementia. We’re taking full advantage of these developments, building new infrastructure and networks for researchers across the country.  Our proteomics platform established in collaboration with Medical Research Council’s Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit MRC-PPU in Dundee, is just one example of a pioneering initiative bringing together the very latest tools and world-class expertise. The new set-up increases access to many more researchers, providing greater experimental opportunities and chances of research breakthroughs.
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Connections

Our vast and varied network of experts and resources acts as a shared pool of data, tools and ideas that can propel us forward in the search for treatments. To foster strong links between scientists across the UK DRI with similar research interests and/or skill sets, we established the cross-centre Themes. Researchers come together to discuss big ideas, learn about latest developments, share data and resources, and initiate collaborations.
The UK DRI cannot solve dementia alone - we benefit from a rich landscape of organisations and networks committed to dementia research, both nationally and internationally. By harnessing each others’ strengths and sharing expertise, we create a thriving research ecosystem that accelerates progress towards our collective goals.
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Inspiration

We know that freedom to develop novel ideas and try new things is vital to the research process. Below you’ll hear some of the ways our researchers are approaching problems from new angles and learning from fields that have already seen substantial breakthroughs. The diversity of our researchers is key to developing new approaches to study and treat dementia; including researchers with a wide range of backgrounds brings fresh ideas and strategies into the field.
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Bringing together
brilliant minds

Crafting a world-class research environment

The challenge of unlocking vital knowledge about dementia calls for an unparalleled research environment. Such an environment must foster creative exploration, connect experts from diverse fields, allow them the freedom to try new things and provide the necessary tools for them to excel.

Harnessing rich research talent

Around 40% of our scientific Group leaders would have been unlikely to describe themselves as dementia researchers before they joined the UK DRI. We actively seek skills in (sometimes surprising) specialist areas that we believe will be crucial to future breakthroughs.
Certainly not everyone involved in the search for dementia treatments is a neuroscientist. Our team includes geneticists, mathematicians, engineers, software developers and specialists in fields such as machine learning and artificial intelligence.

DNA Repair
Dr Gabriel Balmus

Group Leader (UK DRI at Cambridge)
It’s exciting to be part of a stimulating environment where experts from different disciplines are coming together to solve outstanding questions in dementia. My lab is bringing experience in DNA damage to the field of neurodegeneration, investigating whether we can maintain DNA stability lost during disease. We propose to do that by targeting faulty repair mechanisms to devise promising new therapies.

Data science
Dr Sarah Marzi

Emerging Leader (UK DRI at Imperial)
I apply my skills in bioinformatics to make sense of the vast amount of data we are now able to extract from state-of-the-art experiments and studies. This information is vital if we are to meet the urgent need for effective treatment and prevention strategies for dementia.

Robotics
Dr Ravi Vaidyanathan

Group Leader (UK DRI Care Research and Technology)
We’ve brought together doctors, therapists, designers, and computer programmers to create robots that will improve quality of life for people with dementia. Robotic systems can offer assistance in several ways, from reminders to locate household items, recognising distress and initiating a conversation, or contacting other people for support. We hope this technology will allow people to live confidently and safety in their home.

Statistics
Dr Emily Baker

Postdoctoral Researcher (UK DRI at Cardiff)
We take large genetic datasets and use statistics to better understand how our inherited genes can increase risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. We aim to design accurate methods of predicting whether, and when, someone may develop the condition.

Clinical vascular science
Prof Joanna Wardlaw CBE

Group Leader (UK DRI at Edinburgh)
The brain is a highly metabolic organ that takes 20-25% of the cardiac output while we are at rest. It is therefore no surprise that the brain and heart share many risk factors and dementia has a strong vascular component. I’m applying my expertise in brain imaging, and knowledge of conditions such as stroke and small vessel disease, to help uncover the drivers behind dementia.