Treatment, diagnosis, and prevention are the three priority areas we are focusing to make a difference to the lives of people affected by dementia.
This research strategy has been developed in collaboration with our Scientific Advisory Board, with input from people affected by dementia. It identifies and addresses the major opportunities for progress in dementia research over the coming years.
Reflecting the main challenges and opportunities for progress in dementia research, we have distilled our research strategy into three priority areas that must be tackled to make a difference to people’s lives: treatment, diagnosis and prevention.
While our new strategy focuses on these, it's important to acknowledge that progress in all of them will be driven by continued progress in fundamental understanding of the biology of the diseases that cause dementia.
Alzheimer’s Research UK will continue to fund basic science in service of our three priority areas.
We will accelerate the search for treatments that slow the course of dementia, and tackle its symptoms.
- Launch Clinical Trials Groups for dementia in the UK, to develop and promote innovations in dementia clinical trial designs, outcome measures and delivery mechanisms, providing a pathway for novel and repurposed medicines to be studied at pace.
- Invest in research to understand mechanisms of the diseases that cause dementia through our response mode grant rounds, our strategic partnership with the UK Dementia Research Institute and international partnerships.
- Continue to foster and invest in interactions between academic research and industry, such as our Drug Discovery Alliance and Dementia Discovery Fund, to increase the range and breadth of treatments that go into clinical studies.
- Work in partnership to promote engagement and recruitment in underserved communities.
"As a clinician seeing patients in the NHS I am all too aware of the devastating effects that dementia has on individuals and their families. While there is much that we can do to help and to support people now, we are desperately in need of better diagnostics and new treatments that are proven to help. As a researcher, I can see that major advances are just around the corner.
I am delighted therefore that Alzheimer’s Research UK’s new research strategy includes further expansion into the clinical research space, and I am excited that this will accelerate the translation of research findings through to tangible changes which will make real differences to patients."
Prof Jon Schott, Chief Medical Officer
We will develop early, fast, and accurate ways to diagnose dementia.
- Develop and validate new tools that harness advances in technologies, including digital technologies, to detect early changes in brain function with a high degree of sensitivity.
- Fund research to develop novel diagnostic tools, including digital tools, genetic, fluidic and imaging tests.
- Fund research to develop diagnostic tools and biomarkers to differentiate between different forms of dementia, prioritising tools that have potential to increase impact of future treatments.
- Fund research to validate novel detection tools across different populations and invest in activities that implement new technologies into diagnostic pathways.
"When I found out that I have inherited the gene that caused my mum’s dementia, it was an incredibly tough thing to hear. But there was also a massive sense of relief. Not knowing was a burden I couldn’t live with.
The progress being made in dementia research gives me hope that we’re heading towards a revolution in the way dementia is diagnosed and treated, so I won’t have the same experience as my mum. And I believe that, with its new strategy, Alzheimer’s Research UK will be leading the charge."
Jordan's mother’s dementia was caused by a rare faulty gene that he has inherited, meaning he will also develop dementia in around 20 years’ time.
We will improve understanding of the modifiable risk factors associated with dementia and make progress in risk reduction.
- Fund research that improves our understanding of the risk factors associated with dementia and how they inter-relate through our response mode grant round and in partnership with others.
- Collaborate to develop and test interventions to prevent dementia, bringing in perspectives and opportunities from other disease areas.
- Work across academic, health and public health sectors to ensure that underserved populations are included in research related to prevention and risk reduction.
"My career so far has been focusing on understanding the underlying genetic causes for Alzheimer’s disease. Now is the time for us to build this knowledge into ways of helping people susceptible to developing dementia.
Dementia research organisations, policy makers and the public health sector must work together to develop preventative approaches that work for people from all backgrounds and sectors of society."
Prof Julie Williams, Director of UK Dementia Research Institute, Cardiff
We will ensure the research environment in the UK is conducive to rapid progress.
As the UK’s leading dementia research charity, Alzheimer’s Research UK has a duty to foster a research culture that will speed progress in research. We will continue to encourage and promote open science, data sharing, public engagement in research and will measure impacts that matter most to people affected by dementia.
In addition to this, we’ve identified three priority areas that need a step change if we are to achieve our ambitious strategy.
"The scale of the challenge we face in dementia requires a bold approach. As well as continuing to fund research through our regular open grant rounds, we will develop specific research calls, partnerships and initiatives that align with our greatest challenges."
Prof James Rowe, Chair of Scientific Advisory Board
Our strategic partnerships
Strong partnerships between government, industry, academia and third sector partners are essential to making more rapid progress in dementia research.
We will support cross-sector translational programmes and initiatives that support translation and foster commercialisation of research for patient benefit.
The Alzheimer’s Research UK Research Network is a community of over 1,800 researchers across the UK, with each Network Centre providing pump priming, travel and equipment funding as well as local networking events.