University of St Andrews: People at heart of brain and dementia research

Researchers at the University of St Andrews have been instrumental in creating Scotland’s first national brain health and dementia research strategy which aims to put people first and turn research into treatment more quickly.

Professor Frank Gunn-Moore of the School of Biology and Dr Maggie Ellis of the School of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of St Andrews – both members of the Scottish Dementia Research Consortium (SDRC) executive committee – used their decades of experience to inform the new strategy.

Prepared by Alzheimer Scotland, the Scottish Dementia Research Consortium and Brain Health Scotland, and endorsed by a broad range of national organisations, the strategy sets the direction for research by defining key areas with strategic actions.

Professor Gunn-Moore said: “I have been privileged to work with colleagues across Scotland to help put this strategy together, which has uniquely had input from researchers who work at the fundamental level through to clinicians and nurses who will translate our findings.

“Helping dementia research in all its forms is the essence of the SDRC.”

Many countries have dementia plans or strategies, but Scotland is among the first to develop a government-sponsored, standalone research strategy for brain health and dementia.

The overall aim is to rapidly translate the highest quality brain health and dementia research into health and social care practice as effectively as possible.

The strategy’s recommendations lay the groundwork for engaging more people in research activity across Scotland reinforcing the importance of conversations between people and researchers.

The strategy recommends key actions:

Brain health and dementia research boards should be developed locally and nationally to speed up research findings becoming practice.
A national scoping review to investigate research careers in brain health and dementia in Scotland to remove barriers that obstruct careers at all levels to help progression to more senior career levels.
A national strategy oversight board to take responsibility for monitoring and supporting implementation of the strategy across Scotland.
Jim Pearson, Director of Policy and Research at Alzheimer Scotland, said: “Alzheimer Scotland is delighted to have worked in partnership with our Scottish Dementia Research Consortium and Brain Health Scotland colleagues to develop the Scottish Brain Health and Dementia Research Strategy.

“We are encouraged by the breadth of support and endorsement from key stakeholders for this strategy. It sets out how Scotland can lead the way in creating the collaborative environment where high-quality research translates rapidly into practice and where opportunities for meaningful participation in brain health and dementia research can flourish.”

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