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The September 2021 edition of the Great Minds members' newsletter.

Smart watch

Welcome from Dr Ivan Koychev

Dear Great Minds members, 

The past six months have been notable for the gradual restart of studies in dementia, which were largely on hold during the period of COVID-related restrictions. At Great Minds we have been busy making sure that we are ready to meet the growing demand, and we already have the first two studies recruiting through our platform.

The period since our last newsletter also saw a watershed moment for the Alzheimer’s disease field through the approval in the US of the first therapy – aducanumab – that aims to change the disease course. While undoubtedly controversial, this decision has reignited interest in the development of therapies for this huge unmet need. It has also sped up the move away from diagnosing Alzheimer’s on the basis of reported symptoms and towards its diagnosis on the basis of presence of Alzheimer’s disease proteins (using lumbar punctures, head scans or blood tests). 

These two developments have reinforced the importance of dedicated research registers of volunteers with a wealth of biological data, such as Great Minds, to accelerate the search for effective dementia treatments. For this reason we extend our thanks for the crucial contribution you continue to make to brain health research. And, as always, you can get in touch with us at

Dr Ivan Koychev, Great Minds lead

Exciting new link with Join Dementia Research

Until now, recruitment of new members to Great Minds has been from existing cohort studies. We have now agreed a link with Join Dementia Research (JDR), a registry of 50,000 people interested in taking part in dementia research – all of whom will be given the opportunity to join Great Minds. JDR is open to everyone over the age of 18.

Visit the JDR website.

Save the date for our next Great Minds online event

Our fourth Great Minds members’ event will take place on Thursday 18 November 2021, streamed live online. The main topic will be frontotemporal dementia, and we’ll be joined by leading experts Professor James Rowe (University of Cambridge) and Dr Sian Thompson (Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust). Keep an eye out for more details in your inbox.

Catch up on our most recent event.

Ongoing studies involving Great Minds participants


To date, testing memory and thinking skills (cognition) has not been possible without having to ask individuals to come to the clinic. The purpose of this research is to test whether a new mobile app is effective in remotely measuring cognition among healthy adults – helping detect risk of cognitive decline and dementia as we age. The app was created by technology company SharpTx, working under the scientific guidance of researchers from Oxford University.


The aim of the Remote Assessment of Disease and Relapse – Alzheimer’s Disease (RADAR-AD) study is to assess the use of remote monitoring technology (RMT) such as fitness watches in detecting impairments in people’s ability to function in day-to-day life. This is measured through the activities of daily living – for example, dressing oneself or preparing a meal. The RADAR-AD study will gather health data using RMT in people with Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment. Data will be compared with the normal tests these people would do when they visit a hospital, and with RMT data from healthy people.

Dementia terminology decoded

Scientific literature is full of complicated language that can make it difficult for those outside the field to engage with the subject – and dementia research is no exception. Our new blog post explains some of the most common terms in dementia science, from amyloid to vascular.

Read the full blog post.

Aducanumab: a new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease?

In June, an antibody drug called aducanumab was approved for use in the US, becoming the first new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease to receive approval in nearly two decades. Read what DPUK’s Director, Professor John Gallacher, had to say about this development.

Read the full story.

Dementia and our genes

How much of a role does genetics play in our risk of developing dementia? Our blog post explores what we know about genes and dementia – and how we can reduce our risk by leading lifestyles that help keep our brains healthy.

Read the full blog post.

Report reveals the effect of COVID-19 on dementia research

A new report has found that dementia research has been deprioritised during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the introduction of social distancing and shielding has amplified the need to use new technologies to reach people safely.

Read more about the report.

World Alzheimer’s Month

September is World Alzheimer’s Month. Organised by Alzheimer’s Disease International, this awareness drive aims to challenge stigma and make dementia a global health priority. This year’s theme is early diagnosis.

Find out more about World Alzheimer's Month.

Dementia’s relationship with Parkinson’s

There are two types of dementia closely related to Parkinson’s disease: dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s dementia. Find out more about this relationship in our new blog post.

Read the full blog post.