The Centre for Dementia Prevention brings together three research domains under one umbrella organisation, each critical in achieving dementia prevention.
Basic Science and Drug Discovery:
First we need to have the deepest understanding of neurodegenerative disease especially in the period before dementia develops. In doing so, we can help understand the reasons people get dementia we when the diseases are at the earliest phase, we can work out how best to test people for these conditions and ultimately we can develop rational targets for drug development and ways to measure the success of these drugs.
Clinical Science (Epidemiology and Trials):
Once we have the necessary knowledge of disease, we have to translate these findings into the clinical environment by undertaking trials. The epidemiological work at population levels also helps elucidate associations between risks and disease which provide the basic scientists pointers to where to look for the biological plausibility linking genetic, environmental and clinical risks to dementia.
Social Science and Public Health:
Prevention can also be applied to people who have developed dementia as we seek to understand how we can prevent moving from early stages of dementia to later stages – this attempt to prevent impairment becoming disability
underpins our tertiary prevention work which will also benefit from greater understanding disease processes and high quality trials to test interventions. This domain will also focus on getting research into practice so that earlier work is informed by the likelihood of acceptability to the public and policy makers. It will also though work on influencing policy makers and the pubic to ensure that effective prevention strategies can be implemented seamlessly and rapidly.
The strength of CDP is that each of these domains are merged under one organisational structure creating a single knowledge and scientific platform with the singular objective to prevent dementia. Basic science must be aware of what is feasible at a population level and the social scientists must be ‘ahead of the curve’ for what is in the pipeline in terms of tests and interventions. The clinical scientists provide the epidemiological and human proof of biological discovery and help translate and modify this science in line with social and public demands.
The University of Edinburgh is one of the most powerful neuroscience institutes globally and through the establishment of this centre will reinforce this position, especially with regards to Dementia Prevention. The CDP will work with national policy makers, the 3rd sector and the NHS to achieve its objective.
The knowledge derived in Scotland will significantly influence the global effort in attempts to achieve dementia prevention.