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Brighton & Sussex Medical School

Dementia Research Conference 2021 

BSMS > Research > Neuroscience > Centre for Dementia Studies > Dementia Research Conference 2021

Dementia Research Conference 2021

About this event

This zoom event took place Wednesday 3 February 2021 and was hosted by Professor Naji Tabet, Director of Centre for the Centre for Dementia studies. The conference consisted of a mix between live and pre-recorded presentations, given by a range of experts in dementia and brain research across Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

The event covered a range of topics related to dementia including  (but not limited to):

  • The science of dementia: understanding aspects of brain pathology and function
  • Learning for the future: our Postdoctoral Research Fellows and PhD students will share their research ideas and work
  • Improving the quality of life of people with dementia (and their families and carers)
  • The future of dementia research: new technologies and working in partnership
  • And there will be Q&A sessions - so more chance to interact and ask questions.

Part 1: The science of dementia

Opening remarks

Professor Hugo Critchley

Professor Hugo Critchley is head of the BSMS Department of Neuroscience, Foundation Chair
of Psychiatry at BSMS (2006) and founding co- director of the Sackler Centre of Consciousness Science (2010). Hugo’s research combines clinical and cognitive neuroscience, psychiatry, autonomic physiology & medicine, and neuroimaging in order to understand mind-brain-body interactions and their relevance to health. Within psychiatry, Hugo undertook specialised training in neuropsychiatry and works clinically for Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust within the Neurodevelopment Service, which he helped set up in 2007 for the diagnostic assessment and clinical management of adults expressing neurodevelopment conditions including autism spectrum conditions, Tourette Syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. 

Proteins at the centre of Alzheimer's disease pathology

Professor Louise Serpell 

Professor Louise Serpell BSc. DPhil. has worked on protein misfolding for over 26 years and published over 130 articles with an H-index of 61 (Google Scholar) and holds one patent. The groups research methods include structure determination of fibrous structures utilising transmission electron microscopy (TEM), X-ray fibre diffraction (XRFD) and biophysical techniques. Louise is an editor for Journal of Molecular Biology, Biochemical Journal and Frontiers in Biosciences. She has served as a panel member on Royal Society, BBSRC, UKRI Future Leader Fellowships and Alzheimer’s Society grant funding boards. 

Understanding how sleep and circadian rhythms contribute to brain function 

Professor Derk-Jan Dijk

Professor Naji Tabet, Director of the Centre for Dementia Studies and Reader in Old Age Psychiatry, is a course leader of the MSc Dementia Studies, and leads the clinical trial arm of CDS. Dr Tabet has been an investigator on over 20 major clinical trials and is also actively investigating non- pharmacological approaches that may have an added benefit for Alzheimer’s disease patients. He is also studying biochemical and immunological markers to shed further light on disease pathogenesis and progression. 

Assistive media in dementia care 

Professor David Frohlich 

Professor David Frohlich is Director of Digital World Research Centre at the University of Surrey and Professor of Interaction Design. He joined the Centre in January 2005 to establish a new research agenda on new media innovation with social and cultural benefit. Prior to joining Digital World, David worked for 14 years as a senior research scientist at HP Labs, conducting design research on the future of mobile, domestic and photographic technology. 

Day-to-day-variation in cognition, mood and actigraphically assessed sleep in Alzheimer’s, mild cognitive impairment and controls 

Dr Sara Balouch

Dr Sara Balouch completed her Psychology PhD on Memory for Everyday Activities in People with Dementia at the University of Sussex in 2014. Following on from this Sara was involved with various research projects with the South London Stroke Register at King’s College London for a year. She then joined Brighton & Sussex Medical School as a Research Fellow for three years leading various projects that investigated the lifestyle risk factors of dementia, such as sleep and social networks. She was also involved in qualitative research investigating the dementia attitudes of caregivers in Pakistan in collaboration with the University of Southampton. In 2019, Sara took up a permanent lecturer post at BPP University, London, where she now teaches and leads Biological Psychology and Cognitive Psychology MSc modules. 

Learning for the future our PhD students

Katie Alford

Katie Alford is a third year PhD student looking at quality of life in people living with HIV and cognitive impairment. After graduating from University of Sussex with an MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience, Katie worked as a research assistant on projects looking at youth engagement and uptake of CBT in psychosis services and on the impacts of polypharmacy in those living with HIV.

Yvonne Feeney

Yvonne Feeney is a PhD student at Brighton
and Sussex Medical School studying empathy towards people with dementia in undergraduate healthcare students. Yvonne has a background as an Adult Nurse and has worked at the Centre for Dementia Studies since 2016 as a research assistant on the Time for Dementia programme. She completed her MSc in Dementia Studies at Brighton and Sussex Medical School in 2019. Her research interests include improving quality of life for people with dementia, and the role education plays in improving understanding and attitudes toward the dementia.

Molly Hebditch

Molly Hebditch is a PhD student at the Centre for Dementia Studies. Her research aims to explore medical and nursing student’s career preferences for working with people with dementia. She graduated from the University of Exeter with a BSc in Psychology and the University College London with an MSc in Research Methods for Psychology. She has previously worked for the Alzheimer’s society supporting people affected by dementia and developing dementia-friendly services in the community. Molly also worked for the University of Surrey as a research assistant on the Time for Dementia educational programme. Her research interests include the improvement of quality of life and care practices for those affected by dementia, and education in dementia.

Sana Bestwn

Sana Bestwn holds a BSc in Cognitive Neuroscience from the University of Westminster and an MSc in Neuroscience from Kings College London. She is currently a first year PhD student within the Centre for Dementia Studies investigating the practices, attitudes and outcomes of patients with memory complaints but with no dementia diagnosis following memory clinical assessment.

Megan Zelenka

Megan Zelenka is a PhD student at the Centre for Dementia Studies, Brighton and Sussex Medical School. Her project, funded by the Applied Research Collaboration - Kent, Surrey, and Sussex (ARC KSS), will investigate the determinants of multiple hospital admissions for people with dementia. Megan previously completed her MPH in Public Health and her BSc in Neuroscience at the University of Nottingham, in 2020 and 2019 respectively. Throughout her university education, Megan has shown interest in the neuroscience of ageing and the organisational challenges of treating people with dementia. Her research interests include improving the quality of life for people with dementia, the negative consequences of multiple hospital admissions, and further understanding of the burdensome transition from hospital to own home or care home.


Part 2: Improving the quality of life of people with dementia and their families

Afternoon session introduction

Professor Malcolm Reed 

Professor Malcolm Reed qualified in medicine from the University of Sheffield in 1981. Following postgraduate surgical training in the UK and a period of research at the University of Louisville
in Kentucky, he returned to Sheffield for Higher Surgical Training. He was appointed as Dean of BSMS in December 2014. In 2016, Professor Reed became the Chair of the Medical Schools Council’s Education sub-committee and then recently in August 2019 he was appointed Co-Chair of the Medical Schools Council. He has a long-standing track record in cancer research, with more than 300 publications. His main current areas of clinical research relate to the surgical management of breast cancer. 

Dementia in a time of Covid

Professor Sube Banerjee 

Professor Sube Banerjee is Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health at the University of Plymouth
and Professor of Dementia. He trained at St Thomas’s Hospital and the Institute of Psychiatry, London; clinically he works as an old age psychiatrist. His research focusses on quality of life and quality of care in dementia and the evaluation of new treatments and services. He works with industry, governments and the WHO on health services, policy and strategies to improve health for older adults with complex needs and those with dementia. He has been awarded national and international awards for policy and research in dementia. 

Creating learning environments for compassionate care for older people

Professor Jackie Bridges

Professor Jackie Bridges is Professor of Older People’s Care in the School of Health Sciences, University of Southampton, UK. She is a registered nurse with a background of clinical practice, health services research and education, and organisational and practice development. She leads a major programme of research focusedon professional work and organisational change related to older people’s care. Jackie leads the School’s Ageing and Dementia research group and is an investigator for NIHR ARC Wessex, helping to lead the ARC Ageing and Dementia work in Wessex and nationally.

Quality of life in care homes

Dr Laura Hughes

Dr Laura Hughes is a research fellow at the Centre for Dementia Studies. Her research focuses on care homes for older adults and measuring quality of life routinely as a part of care practice. Her other interests include the perceptions of care homes and care workers from the general public and other healthcare practitioners and the implications these have on accessing, using, and supporting care homes. She also has an interest in understanding the advice and support that is available and utilised when moving into a care home and how we can create more effective sources of information.

DETERMIND: improving dementia care during the COVID-19 pandemic 

Dr Ben Hicks 

Dr Ben Hicks is a Research Fellow at BSMS and Programme Co-ordinator for the DETERMIND project. His research concerns supporting the well-being and social inclusion of people with dementia and their care partners. 

The value of involving people with dementia and carers in dementia research 

Julia Fountain 

Julia Fountain is part of the Patient Public Involvement Team in the Research Department at Sussex Partnership NHS foundation Trust. She co- ordinates the Dementia Consultation Group who all have experience of living with dementia. Some group members have a diagnosis of dementia and some care (or cared) for somebody who does. 

Part 3: Working in partnership

The Alzheimer's Society research and funding opportunities

Dr Richard Oakley

Dr Richard Oakley as Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, Richard plays a critical role
in the development and implementation of Alzheimer’s Society’s Research Strategy; working with the Director of Research and Influencing to lead our growing and ambitious world class research programme and portfolio. In particular, Richard heads up our Research Grants, Research Communications and Research Engagement teams. Together, they aim to ensure we provide essential funding and support to researchers, continue to engage people affected by
dementia and communicate key milestones and developments in research across our networks and to the wider population. 

The partnership of clinical services for dementia research

Dr Padmaprabha Dalby

Dr Padmaprabha Dalby is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and the Clinical Director for Specialist Older Adult Services in Sussex Partnership Trust. She took up her current role out of a passion to improve and develop the services we offer to older people and people with dementia. Padmaprabha has conducted and published research into the lived experience of spirituality in older people living with dementia and also has personal experience of close family members living with dementia. Clinically she is currently offering a service to support care homes andtheir communities in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Dementia Friends: An effective means of improving attitudes towards dementia in adolescents

Dr Nicolas Farina 

Dr Nicolas Farina is a Research Fellow for the Centre for Dementia Studies. Dr Farina has a broad research interest related to improving the lives of people with dementia and their carers. In recent years, he has developed an expertise in dementia-related stigma, and co-leads the anti- stigma work package on the STRiDE project. 

Bringing AI, IoT and 5G together for dementia patients

Prof Maziar Nekovee 

Professor Maziar Nekovee is Dean of the AI Institute and Professor of mobile technologies and applied AI at University of Sussex, UK. Prior to joining academia in 2017 he was with Samsung R&D UK and prior to that with BT Research and Innovation. His research focus in on 5G/6G, IoT and AI, and their applications including in health and care sectors. He is co-lead of the ERC funded Connected Care Project: Co-creating Connected and Intelligent Care Homes for People with Dementia. 

Can dementia be detected from primary care patients’ records by automated methods earlier than by the treating physician?

Dr Elizabeth Ford 

Dr Elizabeth Ford is Senior Lecturer in Primary Care Research in Brighton and has a particular interest in cross-disciplinary collaborations for research in primary care databases. Her research has spanned qualitative work on data creation in general practice, estimation of amount of clinical information hidden in free text in EHRs, and development of machine-learning models to identify unlabelled cases of dementia in general practice. She is currently working on public engagement and ethical issues around the use of patient and public health data for research for public benefit. 

Research surrounding scabies outbreaks in care homes

Professor Jackie Cassell 

Professor Jackie Cassell is a clinical academic, with specialist accreditation in public health and in genitourinary medicine, and is Deputy Dean of the Brighton and Sussex Medical School and currently serves on the Social Care Working Group advising government on the Covid-19 epidemic. Jackie has in recent years led a unique programme of work on scabies in residential and nursing care settings for older adults. This arose from the challenges experienced by public health colleagues in managing outbreaks of this Neglected Tropical Disease still common in the UK. This unique study explains why outbreaks of scabies are routinely missed, and diagnosed late. Jackie has a blog at, where you can read about scabies as well as other public health aspects of Covid-19. 

Time for Dementia 

Dr Stephanie Daley

Dr Stephanie Daley is a Senior Lecturer in Older People’s Mental Health & Education at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School. Stephanie leads the Time for Dementia programme, and is an Occupational Therapist by background. Stephanie completed her PhD at Kings College London, and her research interests are quality of life and quality of care in dementia, as well as healthcare education and co-production. 

ARC – dementia and health in the regions

Kath Sykes

Kath Sykes is the Ageing Well: Living well with Dementia Implementation Lead, supporting Theme Lead Prof Naji Tabet. Kath is a nurse by background, and has worked in the NHS in London and Sussex for over 20 years, leading teams and services in Cancer/Haematology and Clinical Research. Across the system Kath has worked in Quality and Patient Safety in Commissioning including Mental Health and Dementia services, and supporting spread and adoption of innovation as Technology Navigator at the AHSN. Kath also holds a Masters in Clinical Research, focusing on mixed method research.