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Countrywide ARC Dementia research teams start work

The National DEM-COMM cohort of almost 50 dementia research fellows came to the opening of the programme at the University of Southampton for the first time.

Dementia remains a challenge for all affected by it, including health and social care services. In the UK, almost 1million people have a diagnosis of dementia, and this figure is predicted to rise to 1.6million in 2050. This means that about 52% of the UK public know someone who has been diagnosed with a form of dementia.

Improving standards of care, generating evidence about the experience of living with dementia alongside other health conditions, and developing new interventions and preventive measures, are key priorities for applied researchers. Also, it is important that research is conducted in a way that enables citizens with dementia and their family care partners to contribute and participate. The agenda is expansive and can only be achieved through the development of a community of evidence-based researchers.

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society, awarded the funding across all 15 NIHR Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs). The aim of the scheme is to support and inspire the next generation of research leaders in applied dementia research, bringing together researchers from different professional and academic backgrounds to build capacity for cross-cutting and community-orientated dementia research projects that can address key gaps in understanding and the evidence-base.

Dr Ruth Bartletts leads the DEM-COMM programme which is hosted by ARC Wessex, and welcomed everyone to the training and development programme.

Woman smiling at camera
Dr Ruth Bartlett, DEM-COMM Programme lead

"It was fantastic to meet everyone in person, and to know that the future of applied dementia research is with such bright people. I look forward to seeing how the DEM-COMM community evolves during the scheme; I’m sure that strategic alliances (and friendships) will be made, if they haven’t already."

Dementia Research Fellows part of the DEM-COMM programme came together to learn about the two-year development and training programme, working in teams across regions and learning about each others' research projects and how they all come together to address the needs of people in their own specific communities.

Professor Jackie Bridges is the national lead for the Ageing, Dementia and Frailty programme, hosted by ARC Wessex:

"This significant investment by NIHR and Alzheimer’s Society in post-doc fellowships is a step-change in applied dementia research capacity building in the UK. It’s really exciting to bring people together for the first time as they set out on their fellowships, and NIHR ARC Wessex looks forward to supporting this talented multidisciplinary community of researchers on their journey to research leadership."

Jackie added that throughout the day there was a real buzz and excitement to what Ruth Bartlett had called an uplifting day.

The two year programme will see researchers from universities across England supported to become the research leaders of the future as part of a £7.5 million pound investment by the NIHR and Alzheimer's Society.

Gallery of the days pictures from Tuesday 25th April, 2023

Professor Alison Richardson is Director of ARC Wessex and explained the potential of the DEM-COMM researchers:

"The health and care of people and their families with dementia is an area where there are many unanswered questions and this investment from NIHR, working in collaboration with the Alzheimer’s society, will accelerate the development of a new generation of researchers. The funding will allow us, through the programme, to provide early-career researchers with the experience and training to help them to develop into future leaders in dementia research and address the many challenges faced by people living with dementia."

The DEM-COMM research team will meet up later in the Autumn of 2023 in Warwickshire for a residential school

DEM-COMM research fellows tweeted throughout the day:


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