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
15 August 2019
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
'I’d thought it was all doom and gloom for dementia research’ Marianne said. ‘But I’d not understood that sometimes this is because testing on volunteers only takes place too late'. DPUK brought Marianne Talbot – a cohort participant, and Ivan – an old-age psychiatrist, together to discuss the bright prospects cohorts offer dementia research.
Five members of the public, all committed to the fight against dementia, recently joined us round the table in London. They shared with us their perspectives of what is critical for volunteers to know before joining research studies. We discovered that clear communication around data security and the volunteer’s control over their contribution is vital to build trust.
As a data curation research assistant for DPUK, Josh is chipping away at the coalface of DPUK’s mission to bring cohort data together into a powerful resource for researchers. In his blog he allows us an insight into a key job that makes it possible for researchers to compare data across different cohorts in the Data Portal.