University of Exeter: World-leading dementia expert bolsters Exeter’s research excellence

Clinical academic Professor Chris Fox is joining from the University of East Anglia, and brings with him a wealth of expertise spanning the pathway from the first signs of developing dementia, to late stages of the disease.

Fox has a strong track record of innovative approaches to digital health and digital health research cutting edge and clinical research programmes, with four currently underway in carer support, sleep, recovery colleges and hospital care. His work also spans areas including data, diagnosis, rehabilitation and using technology and artificial intelligence to understand dementia. Chris said: “I’m delighted to join Exeter, which already has an outstanding reputation in dementia research. I’m excited by the dynamic ethos of building expertise in areas that will yield real benefits to people affected by dementia. There’s a critical mass of research excellence, and I’m particularly excited about the opportunities to harness the power of technology to deliver better prevention strategies, diagnosis and care.”

“The South West has a lot in common with my former home of Norwich, in terms of an older population and demography. My family is from Cornwall, and it’s always been my home-from-home. I hope to unite the two regions to share expertise and best practice.”

Chris leads studies with funding totalling £5 million, and is involved in delivering research with a further £7 million in funding in total. His research overlaps with a number of areas of expertise in Exeter. He has collaborated with Professor Clive Ballard, Executive Dean of the University of Exeter Medical School, for 20 years.

Chris leads four programmes of research which are transferring to Exeter, on hospital care in dementia, carer support in dementia, biomarker discovery in dementia and harms of sleeping medication in dementia. He also works on dementia studies on medication studies, falls and sleep.

Among his research highlights, Chris co-developed the most commonly used tool to assess whether anticholinergic drugs could cause harms if prescribed to an individual patient. Prescribed for a wide range of uses, anticholinergic drugs can cause falls, death and confusion, particularly in people with dementia. The next step is to embed this tool in GP’s decision-making software.

Professor Clive Ballard, at the University of Exeter, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Chris, who is an outstanding researcher, collaborator and friend. He has a truly global profile in dementia research, thanks to the meaningful impact he has made to improving understanding, treatment and care.