Professor Linda Clare and her team aim to improve the lives of people with dementia.

World-leading dementia research team joins the University of Exeter

A global figure in the field of dementia study has joined the University of Exeter to lead a new Centre for Research in Ageing and Cognitive Health (REACH).

Professor Linda Clare, who is particularly known for her pioneering research on the application of cognitive rehabilitation approaches for people with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease, joins Exeter from Bangor University.

The new Centre, based in the department of Psychology within the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, aims to improve the lives of people with dementia. Its research focuses on two main themes: maintaining mental fitness and well-being in later life, and living well with age-related cognitive disability and dementia.

Research commissioned by the Alzheimer’s Society and conducted in 2014 found that 850,000 people in the UK are living with dementia, with an annual cost of £26 billion. Surveys carried out by the Society also found that dementia is the health condition that arouses the greatest fear among the general public.

Professor Clare said: “I am delighted to have joined Exeter to contribute to building on its existing strengths in dementia research. The University has made significant investments in developing this crucial field of research, and this creates tremendous opportunities to ensure that our research has a real impact on the lives of older people and people with dementia.”

“There is currently no cure for dementia. However, making changes in behaviour and lifestyle can help prevent, or delay the start of, age-related decline in mental fitness and dementia. For people who do develop dementia, there is a great deal that can be done to manage the effects of the condition and to help people maintain a good quality of life.”

Four of Professor Clare’s colleagues – Dr Sharon Nelis, Dr Catherine Quinn, Dr Ola Kudlicka and Dr Anthony Martyr – have also joined the new centre in Exeter and other new appointments will follow as the centre grows. The team carry out research aimed at better understanding the experience of dementia and run intervention trials to help manage dementia-related disability or reduce the risk of developing the condition.

Professor Janice Kay, Provost and Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Exeter, said: “There is a substantial health and social care burden of dementia that affects and has implications for the whole of the South West. Our NHS, social care and related organisations do sterling work with people with dementia, and we are delighted to play our part not only in the incredible research we do, but in appointing leading figures of this calibre.”

Professor Dan Charman, Dean of the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, said: “We are extremely pleased that Linda and the REACH group are joining us in our Psychology department. The research undertaken by the group will make a major and lasting contribution to the wellbeing of people with dementia and will undoubtedly lead to a range of further collaborations on ageing and health right across the University and more widely in the region.”

The team collaborates with colleagues in many fields including sociology, economics, geriatric medicine, psychiatry, neurology, neuropsychiatry, public health, exercise science and nursing.

Professor Clare added: “People with dementia in Devon are already taking part in our research, and we will be focusing on developing strong links with regional health and social care services and voluntary sector organisations over the coming months.”

Date: 23 March 2015