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In conversation: Sarah Bauermeister and Chris Orton reflect on our most recent DPUK datathons

Two datathons in two weeks - autumn has certainly been busy season for the DPUK datathon team who have crossed the country to support a host of new dementia studies get off the ground. If you missed out on the DPUK datathons in UEA and Swansea, there are many more in the pipeline – don’t worry!

World Diabetes Day: Chemical changes in blood affect risk of developing other diseases

Luke Whiley won a DPUK grant to investigate gut-brain interactions. On World Diabetes Day, he writes about the links between bacteria, diabetes and dementia.

Keeping our brains healthy to reduce dementia risk

Research shows that our lifestyles can affect the health of our brains, and that making a few positive changes can help protect us as we get older. Dr Ivan Koychev is a clinician-scientist at Dementias Platform UK and a senior clinical researcher in Oxford University’s Department of Psychiatry.

It’s time to explore divergent dementia trends in the UK and Japan to inform policies to reduce dementia risk

Can cultural differences also affect the risk of developing dementia? If so, there could be important policy implications. Dr Dorina Cadar is part of an international team of researchers doing cross-country comparative with UK and Japanese cohorts.

Did you know about the gigantic cohort study hidden in Wales?

Whilst working with one of the UK’s biggest GP databases, DPUK scientist, Tim, realised how valuable it could be for dementia research. Here, the researcher who created one of DPUK’s biggest, most representative cohorts describes how other researchers can use the resource to answer the big questions in dementia research.

Why I think junior researchers really benefit from datathon events

Dr Sarah Bauermeister is getting ready to lead (at least) two more DPUK datathons before the year is up. She’s been known to get up at 4.45am because she’s so enthusiastic about her work, and is totally passionate about developing younger scientists in the dementia research field. We asked her why datathons are such a great opportunity for them.

What it takes to launch a world-scale Alzheimer’s study

There are 100+ researchers, 19 different organisations, 8 different sites and a fearless team conducting it all. Alzheimer’s research today has got so much bigger in its detail and scope. In this blog, Tony, Trial Coordinator of the Deep and Frequent Phenotyping study, gives the inside track on what it’s like to be part of such ambitious research.

Universities and industry are different – and that’s exactly why we need to work together in dementia research

Universities don’t make drugs – that’s the job of the pharmaceutical companies. There are other typical divides across academia and industry too: the expertise is different, the resources are different and the ways of working are different. But that’s no reason not to work together – in fact it’s precisely why we need to. Dr Iain Chessell heads the neuroscience therapy area in AstraZeneca, one of DPUK’s industry partners.

Can ELSA advance dementia research into the impact of socioeconomic factors on dementia?

The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing is a representative cohort of the English population in the DPUK Data Portal – it has unique data with some real potential for cross-cohort dementia research. 2002 is the year it got started, 18,000 is the number of participants, eight is the number of times they have done medical tests, and 65 is their average age now. If you are interested in dementia research and have not considered using this valuable health study yet, Dorina Cader explains why you should.

Digital tech is helping patients with dementia, but are there risks from the big data they generate?

In this final part of Ivan Koychev's blog series, Ivan considers the risks and rewards of the rapid development of digital technology for dementia research and healthcare.

Me, my phantoms – and the imaging network

Pawel, an imaging scientist, is currently on tour across the country to visit DPUK’s seven-site network of PET-MR scanners with his ‘phantoms’ in tow. The phantoms are an intriguing and vital technical step in making sure that the scanners are set up for the first participants in multicentre clinical studies for dementia.

Why we need a machine learning datathon to combat dementia

A branch of artificial intelligence (AI) which is based on training computers to learn patterns has the ability to transform our understanding of dementia. David Llewellyn co-leads the first DPUK datathon next month. He explains why machine learning could be the beginning of the end for this devastating condition.

The ingredients that you need to make a datathon

Although the more commonly known ‘hackathon’ has been used to address societal-level problems from homelessness to corruption, we think that it’s only recently that the data science community is turning its attention to dementia. The DPUK datathon series might well be one of the first for the field in fact. Chris, DPUK’s Data Project Manager, and Sarah, DPUK’s Senior Data Manager, take us through the three key ingredients for a successful datathon.

Why I'm working with DPUK

Ruby recently started as a postdoctoral researcher in DPUK. Alongside pursuing her research in factors affecting mental health and wellbeing, she contributes her valuable experience of working with cohort data to the developers working on the Data Portal upgrades.

A helping hand for researchers

Swansea, the hub of the UK’s world leading informatics expertise, is where you’ll hear the hum of the hundreds of UKSeRP servers that are the home to the DPUK Data Portal. The virtual space of the Data Portal is, in reality, run from Swansea University’s state-of-the-art Data Science Building overlooking the Bristol Channel. Here, Mark Newbury is one of the people you’re very likely to be regularly in touch with. Mark’s on hand to help bring researchers to data, because, as all researchers know, it’s not quite as simple as a click of a button, just yet.

Changes in lifestyle can offset our genetic ‘destiny’

Catherine Calvin, an analyst at Dementias Platform UK (DPUK), investigates population study data of adults in midlife and older, to understand factors that relate to the risk of developing dementia in later life. In a recent paper published in Nature’s Scientific Reports, Catherine demonstrates that genetic susceptibility to developing obesity – a contributing risk factor for dementia – may be modified by lifestyle habits.

Disease-in-a-dish studies open a window to a new level of detail in dementia

Bryan spends a lot of time in a lab, nose down a microscope just like many of his colleagues from university. But the special cells he’s working with put him right at the frontier of cell-based studies in dementia. He’s working with patient-specific stem cells which will enable him to compare the experimental outcomes he’s observing with symptoms which were recorded in the clinics.

Great Minds coming together

Ivan Koychev, Great Minds lead and Clinical Scientist at Dementias Platform UK (DPUK), describes an exciting new chapter in dementia research which, with the support of generous new members of Great Minds, promises to accelerate the development of innovative new treatments.

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