The aim of our dementia theme is to develop novel treatments through precision medicine.

Dementia, the “biggest global health and social care challenge” (Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge 2020) is the commonest cause of death (ONS) and most feared health condition (YouGov). Dementia affects every sector of society with disproportionate burdens on women (3:2) and the most underprivileged. The toll on families and cost to the economy (more than cancer and heart disease combined) will rise dramatically as numbers affected escalate (from 850,000 to 1million by 2030) unless therapies are developed that can slow progression and be delivered early enough to prevent onset and/or maintain functional independence. 

Our focus on young onset and familial dementias provides key insights into pathophysiological drivers that cause or speed up neurodegeneration; and allow analysis of participants in the absence of comorbidity and in at-risk populations. This provides a therapeutic window where there can be treatments before functional decline. 

The theme is organised in subthemes: 

  • Core & Cohorts 
  • Genomics & Cells 
  • Biomarkers 
    • Static & dynamic 
    • Fluid – CSF and Blood 
    • Imaging – MRI and PET 
  • Clinical Applications & Therapies 

Our strategy is to use precision medicine to accelerate the search for effective therapies in neurodegenerative dementias. Our aim is early intervention when there is greatest opportunity to save neuronal function and slow progression. We will harness advances in genetics, cellular models and biomarkers to understand pathophysiological drivers, identify therapeutic targets, characterise disease, improve diagnosis and track progression. We focus on prodromal and early disease using deeply- phenotyped individuals including presymptomatic genetic and sporadic cohorts and assess novel therapies using state-of the-art biomarkers and trial designs.  

We will deliver advances under three interlinked, mutually supportive subthemes. These reflect UCL’s dementia research excellence (2nd globally, 1st in UK; WoS) and highly-cited (Clarivate-“top 1%”) researchers across genetics, cell models, imaging, biomarkers, cognition and trials, integrated with deeply-phenotyped world-leading cohorts.

  • The Genetic & Cellular Studies subtheme
  • The Biomarkers subtheme
  • The Therapies subtheme 
Professor Nick Fox
Dementia Theme Director
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Operations Manager, Translational Neuroscience, Dementia, Mental Health and Hearing Health