In early 2023, DPUK held a series of art workshops focused on promoting brain health and how to keep the brain healthy in older age. People from African and Caribbean communities are underrepresented in dementia research and that matters if research is to accurately represent everyone. 'Your Beautiful Brain' is combatting this disparity by involving African and Caribbean artists and dementia researchers working together to deliver art workshops.
Modifiable risk factors for dementia include those factors that can be altered or changed in some way (modified), usually for the better. The Lancet 2020 commission (Livingston et al., 2020) advocated that there are 12 risk factors which can be potentially modified to prevent or slow the progression of dementia. These are less education, hypertension, obesity, alcohol, traumatic brain injury (TBI), hearing loss, smoking, depression, physical inactivity, social isolation, diabetes and air pollution.
BrainWaves is a major response to a growing youth mental health crisis. Its mission is to build an evidence base and resources to power new research as well as to ensure schools become more effective environments for developing wellbeing in young people. Central to the programme is a longitudinal cohort study which will grow to over 50,000 young people (one of the largest ever adolescent longitudinal studies) and a new research platform combining data from different sources, including this new cohort. The BrainWaves platform will increase in value over time as it provides a sophisticated framework for future research in areas such as genetics, neuroscience and at-scale therapeutic interventions. BrainWaves is a new chapter in adolescent mental health and wellbeing.
The FAST (Feasibility and Acceptability of Scalable Tests) study is a pilot research study run by Dr. Ivan Koychev at University of Oxford and Dementias Platform UK. The study is assessing attitudes to dementia risk screening using digital and blood tests. It will lead to a far larger nationwide study investigating blood biomarkers for brain health across Britain, particularly markers for dementia and memory disorders.
The MND Accelerator (MNDAcc) is a £6 million investment by the Medical Research Council and National Institute for Health and Care Research to make the translation of discoveries into therapeutics easier. It is managed by Dementias Platform UK. Alongside infrastructure and key services provided by DPUK, some MNDAcc facilities are provided by the UK Dementia Research Institute (UKDRI).