Dr Dennis Chan
Principal Research Fellow
Metacognition and Executive Functions group
Main Research and Interests
- Entorhinal cortex and hippocampal function in early Alzheimer’s disease (AD)
- Development of next generation digital toolkits for detecting preclinical AD
My primary area of clinical and academic interest is the detection of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in its earliest stages, prior to the onset of dementia. Early disease detection is critical to the future success of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions in delaying or preventing the onset of dementia.
In collaboration with other UCL colleagues, I have pioneered the application of novel spatial tests to demonstrate entorhinal cortex (EC) and hippocampal dysfunction in pre-dementia AD. With Neil Burgess (ICN), our work showed that a VR test of navigation is more sensitive and specific for early AD than currently used “gold standard” cognitive tests. In collaboration with my ex-Cambridge colleagues Coco Newton and John O’Brien, we are now applying these tests to middle-aged asymptomatic people at risk of AD, as part of the UK-wide PREVENT study.These tests are based on the single cell physiological studies of spatially-modulated cells in the medial temporal lobe (eg EC grid cells, hippocampal place cells) and with John O’Keefe (UCL Sainsbury Wellcome Centre) these cells and their behavioural correlates are studied in preclinical models of AD.
I am one of the research leads for the Alzheimer’s Research UK/Gates Ventures funded EDoN (Early Detection of Neurodegenerative Disease https://edon-initiative.org) initiative whose goal is to deliver digital tools capable of detecting AD and other disorders years before symptom onset in the general population, using wearable tech and AI respectively to deliver and analyse new datasets on cognition and everyday behaviour. My role within EDoN is to co-lead with Chris Hinds (Big Data Institute, Oxford) the development of novel digital toolkits, prior to their implementation within clinical cohorts under the supervision of other UCL EDoN leads Cath Mummery (UCL Dementia Research Centre) and Zuzana Walker (UCL Psychiatry).
Away from UCL I work as a consultant neurologist and runs a cognitive disorders clinic in mid-Sussex with a special focus on patients with mild cognitive impairment and the emerging phenomenon of cognitive Covid.