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Sarah Bauermeister, Associate Professor of Cognitive Neuropsychology, Senior Scientist & Senior Data Manager Dementias Platform UK gives an account of her recent visit to the Korea Brain Research Institute (KBRI) and the unveiling of a new Joint Research Centre that will facilitate collaboration with DPUK in dementia research.


This year's Dementia Action Week campaign was focused on bringing the UK together to take action on improving dementia diagnosis rates. 1 in 3 people in the UK living with dementia do not have a diagnosis but dementia is a global disease with an estimated growth in the number of people living with dementia expected to increase from 55 million in 2019 to 78 million by 2030 and then 139 million by 2050.[i]

International partnerships are therefore essential to the advancement of research and development of potential treatments. If disease modifying drugs coming down the line are approved for use in the NHS, diagnosis becomes critical as these new treatments are effective in people in the earlier stages of the disease.


The importance of global collaboration

KBRI are just one of our international partners and help extend DPUK’s global reach, not only in terms of data access but also through collaborative science, bringing data initiatives together.  Our DPUK focus is translational, integrating data from clinical and population cohorts, whereas KBRI is focused more on discovery in terms of biology mechanisms. The benefit of our collaboration is to bring discovery and translation science together.




Combining these areas is mutually beneficial.  Our work informs what they do in the laboratory and vice versa - we can use their laboratory work to understand mechanistic pathways.  So, there’s a huge strength in joining up global initiatives, we each bring a different strength to the party, which when combined helps to accelerate dementia research.


Developing a collaborative partnership

The KBRI have a huge infrastructure but they haven’t yet developed a platform for data sharing and that’s where we can help them. We can support them to build a platform where the biological equivalent of what we’ve developed, the DPUK Data Portal, could be shared with other people.  After rich discussions 3 collaborative projects have been identified that will align with the Blossom programme in Oxford, which investigates the effects of early life adversity on later life brain health.  KBRI will be doing animal work and the mechanistic work with DPUK doing the phenotype behavioural work.


Sarah also travelled from the KBRI in Daegu, South Korea to Seoul, and delivered talks at Yonsei University and the Seoul National University who run Dementias Platform Korea (DPK). DPUK’s Director, Professor John Gallacher has been supporting them to establish DPK in South Korea for several years.


They are already developing a platform for their data sets aligned cohorts, and welcomed support with things like data curation, data visualisation, what we’ve done that works and how they can accelerate their development. Using DPUKs learnings obviously makes things easier than starting from scratch! And again, at these University talks there were people in the room who want to collaborate on science, one individual had just won an award for an adolescent cohort and that can align with our Brainwaves cohort.


So, in summary, the visit cemented international relationships and agreed exciting projects we will take forward that will lead to shared scientific progress and development of their infrastructure and platforms.   DPUK is looking forward to our continued alliance and future opportunities.  Action on an international scale will help us and our global partners make meaningful advancements in dementia research.