Newcastle University to lead research into distressing symptoms of dementia


Newcastle University to lead research into distressing symptoms 

of dementia

The Alzheimer’s Society has awarded funding to Newcastle University to establish a
new Doctoral Training Centre to study the symptoms of a particularly distressing
form of dementia.
The award is one of eight such research centres opening across the UK, totalling a
new investment of £5 million to support 55 PhD students and clinical research fellows
in dementia research.
The new centre, led by Professor Alan Thomas, will focus on a Dementia with
Lewy Bodies (DLB) which is second to Alzheimer’s Disease as the most common
form of late onset dementia and accounts for up to 20 per cent of all dementia cases.
People with DLB commonly have symptoms other than memory loss such as vivid
hallucinations, disturbed sleep, depression and problems with walking, and these
non-cognitive symptoms are extremely distressing for people with the condition
and those who care for them.
Newcastle University is a world leader in Dementia with Lewy Bodies and played a
key role in developing the current diagnostic criteria for the condition.
This new doctoral training centre, funded by Alzheimer’s Society, will build on the
University’s strengths by supporting five new PhD students to research some of the
 less well understood symptoms of DLB.
Research shows that on average people with DLB have a lower quality of life than
people with other forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease and current
treatments for the non-cognitive symptoms of DLB are extremely limited.
By understanding more about these symptoms and how they relate to memory loss,
this research will lead to better diagnosis and assessment of the symptoms and
potentially to better treatments to help people with DLB enjoy a better quality of life.


Chester-le-Street resident Ken Clasper, pictured, a former electrical engineer who is
 living with Dementia with Lewy Bodies, said:
"I think it is a good time to get more evidence of the causes of this illness, in the
hope that a cure may well be found in the future."
"I know that this illness is very difficult to diagnose correctly, and therefore I think
this is a wonderful opportunity to get more research done in Lewy Body Dementia 
"In Newcastle they have a world renowned base for research into this form of
dementia, and I can think of no better people to do this research.
"I know that it is certainly not a pleasant illness to live with, and no matter what you
may be told about it at the time of the diagnosis this can never inform the person
just what they are going to face, when living with the illness.
"I for one look forward to hearing more about this research project in the hope that
it provides some answers in the future.’
The investigations into DLB will be spearheaded by Professor Thomas, the lead
researcher of the Newcastle Doctoral Training Centre, which will be based at the
Newcastle Biomedical Research Unit, a partnership between Newcastle NHS Hospitals
Foundation Trust and Newcastle University. 
Prof Thomas said: "Dementia with Lewy bodies causes a diverse range of
non-cognitive symptoms such as hallucinations, falls and problems with walking
that have a huge impact on patients and their families.
"The distress this disease causes and the care burden it presents make it vital
that we learn more about the symptoms and find better treatments for them,
something that this new doctoral training centre will help us to achieve.’
A history of poor investment in dementia research has led to a limited number
of researchers working in dementia compared to other health conditions.
The new Doctoral Training Centres represent a strong commitment from the
 Alzheimer’s Society to bolster the size of the dementia research community,
which will accelerate the rate of progress towards better dementia care, new
treatments and ultimately a cure.
Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at Alzheimer’s Society, said:
"There’s a huge amount of progress being made by the dementia research community
but unless we attract and train the best young talent we will limit how quickly we
can make ground breaking discoveries.
"For too long dementia research has been underfunded and as a result we have
significantly fewer scientists than other conditions, with six times more people working
in cancer than dementia.
"If we’re going to defeat dementia we need to give the best brains the right
opportunities and build a research workforce that is fit for the future. That’s why
we’re proud to be announcing the largest investment of its kind, which will see
£5 million committed to create the next generation of dementia researchers.
 People with dementia deserve nothing less than an all-out fightback against the condition and our Doctoral Training Centres will help us enlist the right people to lead it.’
Newcastle University is site of the new National Centre for Ageing Science and
Innovation announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne in his
Autumn Statement. The University, through its Institute for Ageing, carries out a
wide range of research focused on helping us to live healthier lives, including studies
into the impact of physical activity and exercise on healthy ageing.  
Photo credit: John Millard 
published on: 5th February 2015

Key Facts:

  • Newcastle University is a Russell Group University
  • Ranked in the top 1% of universities in the world (QS World University 
  • Rankings 2014)
  • Ranked 16th in the UK for global research power (REF 2014)
  • Ranked 22nd in The Sunday Times 2015 Good University Guide
  • Amongst our peers Newcastle is:
    • Joint 6th in the UK for student satisfaction
    • Ranked 1st in the UK for Computing Science research impact, 
    • 3rd in the UK for Civil Engineering research power and 11th in the UK for Mathematical Sciences research (REF 2014)
    • Ranked 8th in the UK for Medical and Life Sciences research quality 
    • (REF 2014)
    • Ranked 3rd in the UK for English, and in the top 12 for Geography, 
    • Architecture and Planning, and Cultural and Media Studies research 
    • quality (REF 2014)
    • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) top 20
    •  strategic partner
  • 93.7% of our students are in a job or further training within six months of
  • graduating
  • We have a world-class reputation for research excellence and are spearheading 
  • three major societal challenges that have a significant impact on global society. 
  • These themes are: Ageing, Sustainability, and Social Renewal
  • Newcastle University is the first UK university to establish a fully owned 
  • international branch campus for medicine at its NUMed Campus in Malaysia
  • which opened in 2011
  • Our international students put Newcastle University in the world's top 50 
  • (ISB 2013) of global universities.
  • Newcastle University Business School is one of 20 Triple Accredited Business 
  • Schools in the UK


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