Press Office


Dementia conference features Newcastle academics


Researchers from Newcastle University will present their latest findings at the UK's largest dementia research conference.

The Alzheimer’s Research UK Conference 2014 is the biggest meeting of dementia research experts in the country and takes place in Oxford on 25/26 March. Three experts from the region will take to the stage to share their findings with more than 300 other researchers in a bid to work together to find a cure.

Professor Raj Kalaria’s research focuses on cardiovascular risk factors for dementia. High blood pressure and strokes are known to increase the risk of dementia but exactly how they contribute to diseases like Alzheimer’s remains unclear. Prof Kalaria will address the conference to discuss how his research is trying to answer this important question.

Brain Ageing

Professor Kalaria, from the Newcastle Centre for Brain Ageing and Vitality, said:“Lifestyle factors such as high blood pressure and poor diet can reduce our brain health as we get older. My research is looking at exactly how this damage could contribute to Alzheimer’s. We are interested in whether the damage in the brain caused by cerebrovascular disease is independent from the damage occurring in Alzheimer’s or whether these two processes drive each other.

“As one in three adults in the UK has high blood pressure, understanding the interplay between these risk factors and Alzheimer’s is of huge importance for public health. I am excited to present our work at this large conference and share my findings with other researchers.”

Other speakers from the region set to address the conference include Dr Ahmad Khundakar and PhD student Ruth Cromarty, who will be speaking about their research into dementia with Lewy bodies. Dementia with Lewy bodies is the third most common form of dementia and can have distressing symptoms including hallucinations, movement problems and fluctuations in attention.

Dementia with Lewy Bodies

Ruth Cromarty, whose PhD Studentship at Newcastle University is funded by Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “It is a fantastic opportunity to be able to talk about our research at such a large conference. I’ve been using electrical scalp recordings to measure brain activity in people with dementia with Lewy bodies.  We’re gaining really important information about what happens in the brains of people who experience changes in attention, which is helping us understand this symptom in more detail.

“We hope that by discovering what causes the symptoms of this debilitating condition, we can begin to detect the condition earlier and learn how to manage the symptoms better to improve peoples’ quality of life”.

Dr Laura Phipps from the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:“This conference brings together both established experts in dementia research and those in the early stages of their career. The event aims to forge collaborations and allow researchers to share advice and expertise to help us make progress more quickly.

“There are over 800,000 people in the UK with dementia and around 3,000 of those live in Newcastle. We’re currently investing over £1m of research at the  Newcastle University and it is good to see that progress is being made in this important area.”

Press release courtesy of Alzheimer's Research UK

published on: 19 March 2014