Call for dementia research volunteers to help make breakthroughs possible

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By Alex Smith | Monday 20 May 2019

Plymouth-based researchers are seeking volunteers with and without dementia to take part in vital research studies in the region. The research includes a major study looking into better ways of diagnosing dementia using everyday technologies.

The call for volunteers comes during Dementia Action Week, a national initiative aiming to raise awareness of dementia and encouraging people to join efforts to help those affected by the condition.

The national Join Dementia Research programme allows people to register their interest in taking part in vital dementia research studies across the UK. The service is funded by the National Institute of Health Research in partnership with UK’s leading dementia research charity Alzheimer’s Research UK, alongside Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Scotland. More than 40,000 people have registered to Join Dementia Research since its launch in 2015.

Over 100 studies are currently recruiting participants through Join Dementia Research including pioneering research in the South West. Researchers at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust are investigating if iPad-based memory and thinking tests, could be more reliable than the current assessments used to diagnose people with diseases like Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia.

Dementia diagnosis currently involves pen and paper tests. With diagnosis rates for dementia in the UK at only 66%, around 370,000 people are living with dementia without a formal diagnosis and researchers are working towards more effective ways to diagnose people earlier and more accurately.

The study, recruiting through Join Dementia Research, will ask volunteers with a confirmed diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease to complete the computerised tests to see if they’re more sensitive and easier to complete than the current assessments.

Dr Rupert Noad, Consultant Neuropsychologist at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust, who is leading the study, said:

“To bring forward the diagnosis of dementia we need to see cost-effective, easy-to-use tools that can help doctors to identify and assess the complex symptoms of the condition

“In the long term we hope that these new computerised assessments will help to reduce the pressure on the NHS and benefit everyone who uses the service.”

Another study is also seeking volunteers through Join Dementia Research in Plymouth. Re:Cognition Health – an award winning cognitive health provider – is looking for people without a diagnosis of dementia aged between 60-75 years old.

The team is looking to identify people who carry an Alzheimer’s disease risk gene called APOE4. They will then offer a potential new medicine to people with the risk gene to see if it can reduce the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s.

Dr Laura Phipps, from Alzheimer’s Research UK said:

“Volunteering for dementia research can be extremely rewarding and you don’t even have to have dementia to get involved. Volunteers are vital for helping to get important research studies off the ground and Join Dementia Research provides a simple way for people to take part. Alzheimer’s Research UK is here to help you sign up or talk you through any queries you may have.”

You can sign up to and register your interest in taking part in the studies by ringing Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Dementia Research Infoline on 0300 111 5111 or by visiting the Join Dementia Research website at


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Alex Smith