Discovering connections old and new

766

Over the past year, the Centre for Dementia Prevention has been immersed in setting up our cross discipline research unit that would capture risk associated with the development of dementia. Our researchers and academics have been incredibly dedicated in supporting the work going on in the centre by providing expertise for existing research, in launching new innovative projects and also in encouraging early career researchers. As we approach our one-year birthday in a few weeks’ time, we are delighted to have held our first Away Day where we were able to reflect on the work and vision we have for the Centre for Dementia Prevention.

The Away Day was a fantastic opportunity for researchers across Basic Science, Social Science and Clinical Science to come together, explore the connections between our works and create a shared understanding of dementia prevention research. The Away Day enabled the directors and the research staff to explore important topics for dementia research together and learn from each other. Prof Craig Ritchie, Director of the Clinical Science domain, emphasises that the ability to make meaningful differences for people at risk of dementia relies on each of our 3 domains connecting and working seamlessly on key challenges in understanding, knowledge generation, communication and implementation. The Away Day was a crucial early step in building the internal collections towards a clear vision. With 60 researchers, from being based in labs, running clinical trials to conducting qualitative research in social science, we had great discussions about the role our cross-discipline centre plays in dementia research.

There were a range of themes that emerged from the day – around academic collaboration, knowledge exchange and unique opportunities of contributing to world leading Alzheimer’s research. What Prof Charlotte Clarke, Director of the Social Science domain, found important is the strength that the centre has in creating a critical mass of researchers and in creating career development opportunities for researchers and academics in such a key global issue as dementia. There was lots to be learned across the domains and a commitment to share our learning and career opportunities with each other. The researchers shared ideas on how to facilitate better participant recruitment and retention and encompass a wider range of population into dementia research. The directors of the centre were pleased to see generation of ideas for the upcoming future – be it defining “early” stages of dementia and what “prevention” means to different researchers or educating and involving the public more in planning future projects. We were also very excited about the idea of “dementia café” where researchers and participants could go for refreshments and regular public engagement events together!

Prof Jean Manson, Director of the Basic Science domain, emphasises the importance of working together across the three disciplines. We will be publishing a full article on the outcomes and next steps for our centre that emerged from the Away Day discussions.