Global organisations unite to support emerging leaders working to change brain health and dementia landscape

Posted On: 
27th November 2018

Pilot Awards for Global Brain Health Leaders fund for 21 pilot projects across 10 countries, worth over half a million dollars.

Three leading organisations have joined forces to address the growing public health crisis of Alzheimer’s disease. The Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI), the Alzheimer’s Association US and UK-based Alzheimer’s Society have united to support emerging leaders in brain health and dementia through a competitive funding programme - The Pilot Awards for Global Brain Health Leaders.

The awards will fund early research projects intended to discover prevention strategies and improve care and support for people around the world living with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. They are targeted to outstanding researchers and professionals whose activities are set to have real world impact.

The 2018 funded pilot projects include investigating the impact of displacement and trauma on the brain health of Syrian refugees, substance abuse and brain health, music and dementia, palliative care, hearing loss and dementia, sleep and brain training tools.

With strong evidence to guide them, the pilot projects address disparities in access to treatment to improve how care is provided for vulnerable ageing populations. They seek to improve dementia diagnosis, treatment, and care for people with dementia and their families. The researchers will investigate new ways of creating social change to reduce stigma and inspire optimism and dignity for elders. The projects will also develop and refine brain health policies through evidence-based advocacy and outreach and advance the field of brain health and dementia prevention.

Twenty-one pilot projects have just been awarded, spanning 10 countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, Turkey, UK and USA. The total funding awarded is more than half a million U.S. dollars (more than £390,000). The awards of $25,000 (£19,000) each enable the recipients to test a project and then, if successful seek further funding from other sources to scale up their work.

Victor Valcour, Executive Director of the Global Brain Health Institute said: “Our overarching goal at GBHI is to protect the world’s ageing populations from threats to brain health by training the next generation of interprofessional global leaders. We could not achieve the same level of impact without our partnerships with the Alzheimer’s Association and Alzheimer’s Society UK.”
“The Alzheimer’s Association shares the commitment to developing the next generation of brain health leaders,” said Maria C. Carillo, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer, Alzheimer’s Association. “Dementia is a pressing global health issue. These pilot projects are important as a first step to advance scientific knowledge in the effort to delay or prevent Alzheimer’s and other dementias, as well as to improve care and quality of life for persons living with the disease.”

Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, which part-funded the initiative, said: “We know people affected by dementia often don’t receive the good quality end of life care they have a right to, which is why we’re funding these important innovative projects. The technological tool at the centre of Ms Corrina Grimes’ project will help alert GPs when to refer their patients to palliative care and providing better guidance, and Dr Elizabeth Dzeng will use her expertise to compare end of life care in the US, UK and France and investigate which methods could reduce unnecessary suffering for people with dementia at the end of their lives.

“Alzheimer’s Society is proud to unite with the Global Brain Health Institute to award funding to exceptional dementia researchers. This programme nurtures new leaders in the global research challenge of dementia – investigating all aspects from cause and risk to improving care. Their research will benefit people affected by dementia around the world, and we are excited our two UK based researchers in this programme are shining a light on new ways to improve end of life dementia care.”

There are estimated to be 50 million people in the world affected by dementia in 2018 according to Alzheimer’s Disease International statistics. This number is set to rise to 152 million by 2050. Much of the increase will occur in developing countries. Already 58% of people with dementia live in low and middle income countries. By 2050 this will rise to 68%.