This month, we meet Dr Luis Peraza Rodriguez, Research Associate in the Institute for Neurosciences.
What is your main area of research?
I do research on neuroimaging and data analysis for dementia, specifically dementia with Lewy bodies. My main research interests are the design of neuroimaging methods and the study of the ageing brain in health and disease.
How does your work fit within ageing research?
The main risk factor of dementia is age; the ageing population is at high risk of developing this condition, although in some cases it can also occur in younger individuals in their 30s. An early diagnosis of dementia, preferably before the onset of symptoms, would allow us to take preventive measures and treatments designed to delay the onset of the condition as much as we can, and as a consequence, have a longer healthier life.
Where are your main collaborations in Newcastle University and which groups do you feel would be valuable to make links with in the future?
I am working within the Lewy body lab in the Institute of Neuroscience led by Dr John-Paul Taylor. In the Lewy body lab we take an interdisciplinary approach to study novel biomarkers and treatments for Lewy body dementia. Here in Newcastle, I also collaborate strongly with the Dynamic Connectome Lab and the Interdisciplinary Computing and Complex BioSystems (ICOS) group, both within the Computing Science Department. Interdisciplinary research is always important if we want to understand dementia. In my opinion, collaborations with other fields always enriches our research approaches.
What external partnerships/links/funders do you have that contribute to your research?
Currently I am co-investigator in a project funded by Alzheimer’s Research UK, where we are interested on studying the causes that drive the symptomatic variability of dementia using neuroimaging. This project is called “Understanding the symptomatic spectrum of dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB): the modular hypothesis of DLB”. I am also co-supervisor for a PhD student (Julia Schumacher) funded by Alzheimer’s Society whose main interest is to understand the origin of fluctuations in cognition in Lewy body dementias. Additionally, this September our research group will grow thanks to a PhD studentship funded by the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre, which I will supervise.
Do you have a clinical role alongside research? How important is this for your research?
Not myself. My research is what we call “back-end” research, where I do intensive data analysis that is collected and saved in archives. However, I do collaborate with expert clinicians who are at the front lines of research and who have extensive experience with the patients and the social and life problems caused by dementia. Collaborations between scientists and clinicians is really important to develop novel diagnostic tools and discoveries that are useful to the clinical community. Here in Newcastle we are fortunate to have one the few NIHR Biomedical Research Centres that intensively research on dementia hosting world leading clinical experts in this field.
published on: 8 May 2017