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An exciting time for dementia research

Grace Hallinan

With the release of Alzheimer’s Research UK’s new report ‘Keeping pace: progress in dementia research capacity’, and all of the incredible progress it details regarding dementia research, I wanted to reflect on how exciting it is to be a dementia researcher in 2017. I have always been fascinated by the brain, and began my undergraduate studies in neuroscience in 2010.

Shortly after this, my grandfather Andrew was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This is what gave me the drive to choose dementia research as my career path. Since 2009, there has been a much-needed boost in funding dedicated to researching this terrible disease.

I am so delighted to learn that in the past six years, government funding for dementia research has doubled. As well as this, there has been a 91% increase in the number of scientists, like myself, researching dementia in the UK. These increases are so encouraging and uplifting as we can see the work and attention scientists are putting in, together focussing on one outcome – stopping the devastation dementia can bring.

Image – University of Southampton

As heartbreaking as a diagnosis of cancer is, people have a better chance of overcoming the disease than ever before. The same can’t be said for a diagnosis of dementia, which currently no one survives. Wonderful advances have been made in cancer science that are seeing more people than ever recover and live full healthy lives after cancer treatment. But as we all unfortunately know, there is currently nothing that can be done to slow down or cure the diseases that cause dementia.

There are no words to describe the pain of watching a loved one slowly taken over by dementia. That is why I welcome the news that the gap between the number of cancer researchers and dementia researchers is closing – in terms of numbers, we’re catching up to the great position they’re in. While cancer researchers still outnumber dementia researchers by four to one, this is down from six to one, just five-years ago. We have seen the brilliant progress in cancer research that is allowing improved prevention, screening and treatment, and now dementia research can have the same opportunities for progress.

The extra funding, researchers, and scientific output in the field of dementia research brings us closer to a cure every day. This would not be possible without the dedication of researchers and supporters alike.

My career in dementia research is only just beginning, but with continued support and funding, I am excited to continue working in this area and to contribute to our knowledge on how to beat this dreadful condition.

2 Responses to An exciting time for dementia research

  1. James realo 15 March 2017 at 9:34 am #

    Congratulation Grace on your final year in Phd.

    I learn from a blog that dementia has 4 common forms. http://www.freshtherapeutics.com.au/dementia/

    These are:

    Alzheimer’s disease;
    Vascular dementia;
    Dementia with Lewy bodies; and
    Frontotemporal dementia

    What is your opinion as an expert?

    • ARUK Blog Editor
      ARUK Blog Editor 15 March 2017 at 9:46 am #

      Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, but there are other types of dementia too including vascular dementia; dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia. It is possible to have more than one type of dementia at the same time. Alzheimer’s is sometimes seen with vascular dementia or dementia with Lewy bodies. You might hear this called ‘mixed dementia’. You can find out more about these forms of http://www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/about-dementia/types-of-dementia/

      There are also some rarer forms of dementia including familial Alzheimer’s disease; familial frontotemporal dementia; posterior cortical atrophy and primary progressive aphasia which you can find out more about on the rare dementia support website: http://www.raredementiasupport.org/

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