Leading dementia researcher knighted in Queen’s Birthday honours

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By Philip Tubby | Monday 19 June 2017

Leading dementia researcher, Prof Simon Lovestone, has been awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday honours list. The award recognises Prof Lovestone’s contribution to dementia research in a career that has spanned over 30 years.

Prof Lovestone is Professor of Translational Neuroscience at the University of Oxford where he leads research into methods of detecting Alzheimer’s using biomarkers – tell-tale biological clues of the presence of disease.

There is as yet no biological test that can definitively diagnose a person with Alzheimer’s, meaning that doctors can only identify the disease once it has progressed to the point at which people show symptoms. As well as improving the accuracy of diagnosis, such a test could present a window early on in the course of the disease, in which future treatments are likely to be far more effective.

In 2000, Prof Lovestone became one of the first ever recipients of a Major Project Grant from Alzheimer’s Research UK. The half a million-pound project investigated different ways to identify people with Alzheimer’s and highlighted the potential for a blood test to detect clues of the disease.

In the years since, he has continued to drive progress in this area of research and in 2014, with further funding from Alzheimer’s Research UK, he found that the levels of certain proteins in the blood could give clues as to which people with early memory and thinking problems would go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

Prof Lovestone is now building on these findings in a major £6.9 million study, funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) and the Medical Research Council (MRC),  investigating the potential of combining multiple biological markers to more accurately identify those in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

As well as his scientific accomplishments, Prof Lovestone has contributed to dementia research by leading collaborations and supporting initiatives that bring researchers together, as well as speaking out in the public eye to raise awareness of the condition and the need for further funding. For many years he volunteered as a member, and later the Chair, of the Alzheimer’s Research UK Grant Review Board – a panel of experts that recommends the most promising research projects for funding.

In addition to spearheading the Translational Neuroscience department at Oxford University, Prof Lovestone is a Lead Academic Scientist at the Alzheimer’s Research UK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute. He was central to the creation of the Institute in Oxford and now plays an important role in its work to translate findings from academic research into treatments to could change the lives of people with dementia.

Dr David Reynolds, Chief Scientific Officer of Alzheimer’s Research UK said:

“We are absolutely delighted that Simon Lovestone’s contribution to dementia research has been recognised in this way. Not only is his research paving the way to improving the detection of Alzheimer’s disease, Prof Lovestone has also been instrumental in building research capacity through his leadership of ambitious collaborations and large-scale initiatives that are benefiting the whole research community.

“As a researcher who has never shied away from tackling the big issues in dementia, Prof Lovestone was fundamental in the creation of our Drug Discovery Alliance, which takes an innovative new approach to speed up the search for new dementia treatments. It is through the dedication and hard work of researchers like Prof Lovestone that we’ve already been able to make such progress towards developing the life-changing treatments that people with dementia so desperately need. Alzheimer’s Research UK is proud to have been able to support so much of his pioneering work and we are grateful for the support he’s given to the charity over the past two decades.”

About the author

Philip Tubby