iDeAC -
Interdisciplinary Dementia and Ageing Centre

A interdisciplinary research centre dedicated to dementia and brain ageing

The problem...

The understanding of dementia and neurodegenerative disease, together with improved therapies and delivery of care for people with these conditions, is a pressing need in the UK, and the South Coast region is recognised as an area where these problems are particularly acute.

The role of iDeAC...

The Interdisciplinary Dementia and Ageing Centre (IDeAC), initiated and supported by the Institute for Life Sciences at the University of Southampton, has brought together local expertise from across the research spectrum to form a dedicated interdisciplinary dementia and ageing research centre to address the problems in this complex field.

The strength in iDeAC...

The strength in iDeAC is the close collaboration between academics (who are testing ideas), NHS staff (who are involved in day to day diagnosis and care), engineers (for technological development and modelling), mathematicians (for modelling processes that cannot be seen with any current method) and industry (who develop new treatments).

The iDeAC network...

The IDeAC network includes basic scientists, clinicians, health and social care delivery researchers, epidemiologists, imagers, mathematicians, and computing and data scientists. The network consists of four synergistic themes, each covering a range of specialties within the field of dementia research and care, with dedicated experienced theme leads.

Basic and Translational Science Theme

This theme benefits from existing expertise in basic science focusing on cell biology, vascular pathophysiology and neuroinflammation. Areas of interest include the maternal influence on fetal cerebrovascular development, the effects of diabetes and anti-diabetic drugs on models of tauopathy and the toxicity of different tau species to aid a molecular level understanding of dementia biology. The theme has expertise in neuronal and glial biology, cerebrovascular drainage pathways and the role of neuroinflammation in neurodegeneration, brain ageing and dementia.

The theme already works across disciplines, including mathematics, computer science, clinical services (neurosurgery, neurology, cardiothoracic surgery and anaesthetics) and the pharmaceutical industry, making use of biofilm, millifluidics, mass spectrometry and imaging facilities available in Southampton. There are many established national and international collaborations in place. The theme is well represented at international meetings with many emerging insights in the field related to immunological and vascular mechanisms emerging from work in Southampton.

Basic and Translational Science

Clinical Trials and Therapeutics Theme

There is a long history of dementia, brain ageing and neurodegenerative disease trials in Southampton. The Memory Assessment and Research Centre (Moorgreen Hospital, Southern Health FT) has a strong track record of delivery in dementia trials and participated in the earliest trials of cognitive enhancing medication for dementia. At Southampton, the Neurosciences Research Group conducts Phase 2 and Phase 3 trials through the University Hospital Southampton NIHR CRF facility for a range of dementias.

IDeAC members from this theme are currently involved in over 30 clinical trials in dementia and neurological conditions active at Southampton sites, including international trials of cutting edge investigational therapeutic compounds.

The nature of clinical trials fosters external collaboration, and regional, national and international links are already established. The Clinical Research Network provides strong support for clinical trials infrastructure in the region, and a regional network of memory clinics supports recruitment to trials. The theme bridges other themes with strong links to the Clinical Diagnosis and Prognosis theme, the Community and Post-Diagnostic Care theme and the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (NIHR ARC).

Clinical Trials and Therapeutics

Dementia Care and Prevention Theme

Ultimately, dementia basic science and diagnostic advances need to be focused on the individual, their relationships and the wider community. This theme benefits from a strong research base in user-centred and care-delivery design, with particular focus on the dementia workforce. There is established work focusing on quality of life in dementia subgroups, and on evaluating the nature of care provision in the community. New models of care have been pioneered including digital self-management provision (My Medical Record).

This theme has strong relationships to the NHS, social care and third sector organisations. The Wessex NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC), focused on closing the translational gap from clinical evidence to direct patient benefit has Ageing and Dementia as a core theme, with national ARC leadership of this area. Theme members already work with the NHSI Clinical Networks, regional commissioners and the STP, the Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) and the Alzheimer’s Society which supports the Dementia Doctoral Training Centre. This theme provides expertise which can influence local and national policy with the potential for consultancy work in this area.

Early life factors, including socio-economic factors, nutrition, environmental factors, from conception, are associated with the risk of dementia and cognitive impairment in later life. This theme aims to explore those early life factors and their effects on disease risk factors in later life, with a view to develop new ways to reduce risk factors and prevent dementia development.

Early development of pathological features associated with dementia are analysed using stem cells derived from patients, mimicking some biochemical features in the brain of those patients. This allows an early time window into the development of pathological features and a model to analyse ways to prevent their appearance.

Dementia Care and Prevention

Diagnosis and Prognosis Theme

The Diagnosis and Prognosis theme links the basic science theme to clinical services. There is a strong history of cutting-edge neuropathology research in Southampton which has significantly advanced the field. There are established clinical services in place for evaluation of dementia diagnosis and provision of care. Existing strengths include dementia diagnostic imaging, with an imaging physics department that has expertise in structural and functional imaging, modelling and scientific computing. The neuropsychology team within this theme provide clinical diagnostic support to the region, and have interests in diagnostic test development within a clinical environment.

The group links to clinical dementia services across the region, and offers diagnostic and support services for all types of dementia including young-onset dementia. There are established research cohorts that provide a wealth of clinical, imaging and neuropathological data including prospectively acquired biobank samples. iDeAC has already enhanced the collaborative links within this group across the other themes, and a number of new projects have been initiated via the iDeAC development workshops.

Diagnosis and Prognosis

Diagnosis and Prognosis

Diagnosis and Prognosis

The Diagnosis and Prognosis theme links the basic science theme to clinical services. There is a strong history of cutting-edge neuropathology research in Southampton which has significantly advanced the field. There are established clinical services in place for evaluation of dementia diagnosis and provision of care. Existing strengths include dementia diagnostic imaging, with an imaging physics department that has expertise in structural and functional imaging, modelling and scientific computing. The neuropsychology team within this theme provide clinical diagnostic support to the region, and have interests in diagnostic test development within a clinical environment.

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Dementia Care and Prevention

Dementia Care and Prevention

Ultimately, dementia basic science and diagnostic advances need to be focused on the individual, their relationships and the wider community. This theme benefits from a strong research base in user-centred and care-delivery design, with particular focus on the dementia workforce. There is established work focusing on quality of life in dementia subgroups, and on evaluating the nature of care provision in the community. New models of care have been pioneered including digital self-management provision (My Medical Record).

read more
Clinical Trials and Therapeutics

Clinical Trials and Therapeutics

There is a long history of dementia, brain ageing and neurodegenerative disease trials in Southampton. The Memory Assessment and Research Centre (Moorgreen Hospital, Southern Health FT) has a strong track record of delivery in dementia trials and participated in the earliest trials of cognitive enhancing medication for dementia. At Southampton, the Neurosciences Research Group conducts Phase 2 and Phase 3 trials through the University Hospital Southampton NIHR CRF facility for a range of dementias.

read more
Basic and Translational Science

Basic and Translational Science

This theme benefits from existing expertise in basic science focusing on cell biology, vascular pathophysiology and neuroinflammation. Areas of interest include the maternal influence on fetal cerebrovascular development, the effects of diabetes and anti-diabetic drugs on models of tauopathy and the toxicity of different tau species to aid a molecular level understanding of dementia biology. The theme has expertise in neuronal and glial biology, cerebrovascular drainage pathways and the role of neuroinflammation in neurodegeneration, brain ageing and dementia.

read more

Read our executive summary

Read our mission statement