Clinical academic training in dementia research

The future of dementia research depends on developing the future research workforce in dementia. iDeAC is committed to train aspiring young clinical academic trainees aspiring to pursue a research career in dementia, whether this is clinical or laboratory oriented. If you are such an individual looking to apply for an Academic Foundation Programme post, Academic Clinical Fellow or Clinical Lecturer in dementia-related research, we can help you. There are a broad array of researchers you can work with, covering interests ranging from preclinical studies and neuropathology to clinical studies, drug trials and applied health research in dementia care. Many are listed on this website, and you can contact investigators directly. If you are interested in a specific area of dementia research, you can make an enquiry with us by emailing and we will put you in touch with the investigator most closely allied with your interest.

Current projects:

Novel biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease


Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Lewy Body Dementia (DLB) and Parkinson’s Disease (PD) have complex aetiology and pathogenesis and predicting the rate of clinical progression remains challenging. In Southampton, we showed that systemic inflammation increases the risk for earlier onset and/or progression of AD. In this project we will perform an in-depth analysis of serum and CSF samples to link pathways of inflammation to clinical progression. We will also measure amyloid, tau and alpha-synuclein and use state-of-the-art biophysical technology to link inflammation to specific conformers. Collectively, this work may lead to novel composite biomarker to allow better diagnosis and prediction of cognitive decline.

Assessment of multidisciplinary care for complex neurodegenerative disorders


Atypical parkinsonian syndromes are rare complex neurodegenerative diseases such as progressive supranuclear palsy. Patients rapidly deteriorate, accruing multiple disabilities including walking, swallowing, visual and cognitive dysfunction. Patients quickly become dependent and die typically within 6 years of disease onset.

Unfortunately there is no curative or disease modifying treatment and management is supportive. It is not known how best to care for patients with these class of diseases. In particular, would it be more useful to have a multidisciplinary clinic, with therapists, allied health professionals and a coordinator present at the appointment, or a straight forward appointment with a single clinician with separate referrals to other agencies as needed. We are therefore assessing examples of both types of services with longitudinal quantitative and qualitative assessments. This will be used to determine benefits for quality of life and health economics. Results will be used to inform national guidelines and best management practice going forwards.

Blood-brain barrier integrity in dementia


Several studies suggest that blood-brain barrier integrity is impaired in Alzheimer’s dementia. In this project it is hypothesized that dynamic contrast enhanced magnetic resonance imaging can be used to demonstrate this phenomenon, comparing Alzheimer’s dementia, Lewy body dementia and control individuals. The relationship of blood-brain barrier permeability to systemic inflammatory status as measured by urinary neopterin-to-creatinine ratio and blood cytokine assays is being investigated. Patients are being followed up to determine whether a baseline MRI assessment of blood-brain barrier integrity is predictive of future cognitive decline.

Previous projects:

CSF dynamics in cognitively impaired patients


An association exists between intracranial pulsing and cognitive decline. This is seen in blood and CSF flow. Increased arterial stiffness is a possible mechanism; measures of pressure pulsing would help to confirm this. While flow measurements can be made relatively easily, intracranial pressure measurements are challenging. We have developed a novel approach measuring pulsations of the tympanic membrane and shown this to be associated with the MOCA cognitive assessment test in healthy subjects. There would be good support for a clinical academic trainee to explore these measurements of CSF dynamics in cognitively impaired patients


The well-established Southampton Clinical Academic Training Scheme (SoCATS) runs induction programmes and looks after the general needs of clinical academic trainees. A research training course tailored for the younger Academic Foundation Programme trainees is held annually. Specific workshops are held to help trainees at Academic Clinical Fellow or Clinical Lecturer levels to develop their own ideas, write fellowship grants, and communicate science, and prepare them for fellowship interviews. Trainees will be invited to identify one or more mentors from the Faculty’s Mentoring Database.