Research finds a way – our virtual conference showed it is possible

Scientific conferences are events where world experts and budding early-career scientists gather together to learn from their colleagues, share their latest findings and create lasting collaborations.

Sadly, earlier in 2020 we made the decision to cancel our annual Research Conference which was due to take place in Wales. While it was the right thing to do, we were disappointed not to be able to bring some of the UK’s top dementia researchers together.

So, we hatched a plan to make sure that this year’s conference went ahead, but safely in light of the current coronavirus outbreak. It led to a huge social media effort to recreate the conference virtually on Twitter.

Using the hashtag #ARUKconf20, we brought scientists from all stages of their careers together from across the world. Over 263 contributors got involved, ensuring worldwide knowledge in dementia science grew.

From those self-isolating in Boston Massachusetts, to those working from their homes in Sheffield, scientists uploaded and shared posters detailing their latest findings. Researchers quizzed each other on their work, exchanges that are an integral part of the learning and sharing process.

More experienced researchers posted advice on all manner of topics, ranging from how scientists can best write up their findings, to sharing insights into maximising their wellbeing throughout their careers.

We also made sure pioneering research didn’t go un-rewarded. Even at this time, it’s important we celebrate our research successes.

Dr Amy Lloyd won the Jean Corsan Prize, a prize for the best science paper by an early career researcher. You can read about Amy Lloyd’s reaction to winning the award here.

By supporting the research leaders of tomorrow, we will be successful in making the vital breakthroughs needed for dementia.

Among the findings presented was the work of Dr Ruby Tsang from the University of Oxford who has found that early-life adversity, such as family financial hardship and poorer childhood health, can have long-term effects on people’s memory and thinking in later life.

The research was covered by international news media, helping spread this new understanding across the world.

You can still follow the #ARUKconf20 hashtag now. That’s one of the beauties of doing a conference virtually – it’s digital and everlasting.

Alzheimer’s Research UK is an agile organisation, used to adapting to changing circumstances. Our researchers, like you, our loyal supporters, are relentless in their pursuit of our mission to bring about the first life-changing treatment for dementia.

We know you believe and trust, like we do, that research will find a way. Research will prove its worth in the global fight against COVID-19, and thanks to your support, research will continue to make breakthroughs possible for people with dementia, no matter what the world throws at us.

1 Comment

  1. Sarah Drury on 21st April 2020 at 9:51 pm

    Thank you for this encouragement at a time when so much else is happening across the world.

    Any form of dementia seems so cruel and hard to come to terms with that in my opinion it is one of the most important areas requiring research.

    Bless you for all the hard work you do.

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About the author

Ed Pinches

Team: Science news