UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


UCL success at Dementia Research Leaders awards

8 July 2016

We are delighted to announce the success of UCL Institute of Neurology researchers at the Alzheimer's Society Dementia Research Leaders awards, which were presented at the Alzheimer's Society Research conference on June 30th 2016.

The Alzheimer's Society are dedicated to supporting researchers at all stages of their careers via their Dementia Research Leaders programme, and the awards were set up to acknowledge the hard work and amazing progress made by researchers in the earlier stages of their careers. 

There were two categories - Rising Star in Dementia Research, for PhD students and early-career postdoctoral researchers and Leader in Dementia Research for later-career postdoctoral researchers and those at fellowship or lecturer level.

The judges considered the nominees' achievements in their field respective to their careers as well as aspects such as mentoring other researchers, dedication to patient and public involvement and potential to improve the lives of people affected by dementia. 

Leader in Dementia Research

Winner: Jose Bras, UCL Institute of Neurology

Dr Bras is a Proleptic Lecturer and Alzheimer's Society Fellow and member of the Department of Molecular Neuroscience, UCL Institute of Neurology. His work focuses on understanding the genetics of dementia, particularly dementia with Lewy bodies. Jose has already authored or co-authored over 80 academic papers in the course of his career.

The judges were impressed by Jose's innovative and dedicated research activity and extraordinary publication record. Additionally, they praised Jose for creating an international collaborative network of researchers in the field of dementia with Lewy bodies and for his mentorship of undergraduate and postgraduate students interested in a career in dementia research.  

"It is a true honour to have received the Leader in Dementia Research Award. Alzheimer’s Society have been very important in supporting my work for the past few years. Based on this support, we have been able to bring together an international network of researchers interested in Dementia with Lewy Bodies - one of the most underserved common neurological disorders. This consortium is now enabling us to make novel findings in the genetics of this complex disease. Very importantly, I need to say that this award does not recognise the work of a single individual, but that of a group of people who work tirelessly to better understand the basis of these disorders. I have to acknowledge my wife Rita who is an exceptional scientist and who works side-by-side with me on a daily basis and Prof Hardy - a truly inspiring mentor - as well as everyone in the lab". Jose Bras, UCL Institute of Neurology

Runner-up: Jon Rohrer, UCL Institute of Neurology

Dr Rohrer is an Honorary Consultant Neurologist and member of the Department for Neurodegenerative Disease at UCL Institute of Neurology. He specialises in understanding more about frontotemporal dementia, particularly the underlying genetic causes. 

The panel praised Jon's management of the Genetics of FTD Initiative (GENFI) and the international network he has set up around it in order to further investigate the genetics of this rarer form of dementia. He has also shown a dedication to public engagement via his public-facing blog and his work has great potential to improve the lives of people affected by frontotemporal dementia. 

Rising Star in Dementia Research

Winner: Tim Shakespeare, UCL Institute of Neurology

Dr Shakespeare is a Research Fellow at the Dementia Research Centre, UCL Institute of Neurology. His research specialises on a rare form of dementia called posterior cortical atrophy, which affects the back of the brain and often affects the person's vision. Tim works to further understand how to characterise this lesser-known condition, particularly using innovative eye-tracking tests. 

The judges were particularly impressed with Tim's creative approach to informing thousands of people about dementia through his online course, The Many Faces of Dementia, which they believed would have a big impact on the world of care. The panel also felt that Tim has also made astonishing progress in a relatively short period of time and has a very bright and promising career ahead of him.

"I am very honoured to have received the Rising Star in Dementia Research award and wish to say a massive thank you to the Alzheimer’s Society for the award and to Alzheimer’s Research UK who fund my research. The award recognised the impact of ‘The Many Faces of Dementia’ a free online course giving learners a unique insight into dementia through the stories, symptoms and science behind four less common diagnoses. The course was made possible by a grant from UCL, and more than 40 people contributed to the course in one way or another, so thank you to everyone who helped make it a success. The course is running again in July, you can find out more and watch the trailer at www.futurelearn.com/courses/faces-of-dementia". Tim Shakespeare, UCL Institute of Neurology

Runner-up: Naaheed Mukadam, UCL Division of Psychiatry

Dr Mukadam is a Clinical Training Fellow at the Division of Psychiatry at University College London. Her research focuses on helping people from South Asian communities to get better access to dementia diagnosis, services and care. She has also won numerous prizes for her writing, explaining her passion and motivation for her work. 

The judges commended Naheed's innovative work with different minority and ethnic groups. They also praised her focus on putting her research into practice and feel that her work has the real potential to be of benefit to people affected by dementia.

"I am so honoured to have been named runner up in the “Rising Star in Dementia Research” award, particularly when I have seen the high calibre of the current and previous winners. I would like to thank the Alzheimer’s Society for their recognition of my work and I am also extremely grateful to the NIHR for funding my research and giving me this opportunity to work in a field I am passionate about. I am pleased that the judges recognised the innovative nature of my work, particularly in reaching communities that are generally underserved by mainstream dementia services. I am indebted to all of my research participants for their role in making my work possible and I hope that I can make a difference to patients with dementia by encouraging timely diagnosis for people of all ethnicities". Dr Naaheed Mukadam, UCL Division of Psychiatry. 

 "As a dementia dinosaur, it is great to see such excellent young researchers gaining their independence doing such great dementia work at UCL.  Their recognised talent gives great hope for the future of dementia research at UCL and the UK". Professor John Hardy, Department of Molecular Neuroscience, UCL Institute of Neurology

“It is fantastic to see UCL researchers doing so well at the Alzheimer’s Society Awards ceremony which highlights not only the range of very talented people there are working in dementia research at UCL, but also the commitment of UCL to address the challenge of dementia, and to make dementia research top priority while addressing the full spectrum of challenges from finding a disease modifying therapy or cure, through to improving care and prevention research.  One characteristic that all these award winners have in common is not only that they are excellent at what they do, but also that they are extremely collaborative and it is great to see this recognised”. Professor Nick Fox, Director of the Dementia Research Centre, UCL Institute of Neurology

“Our Dementia Research Leaders awards recognise the potential of dementia researchers across the country, and we were delighted to be able to acknowledge the work of five outstanding researchers. The work undertaken by the Institute of Neurology is famed across the world for its innovation and conducting world-class research, a fact that is reflected in the three winners that come from the Institute. Congratulations to all of the winners and we hope that they continue with their important work, helping to improve the lives of people affected by dementia across the UK and beyond.” Doug Brown, Director for Research and Development, Alzheimer's Society

Further information:

Images credit: Peter Paniccia