Prof. Craig Ritchie warns of 'bleak' outlook for dementia research post-Brexit

Prof. Craig Ritchie warns of 'bleak' outlook for dementia research post-Brexit


Monday, 12 June, 2017

On the eve of Dementia Awareness Week in Scotland, Professor Craig Ritchie (Chair of Psychiatry of Ageing, Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, University of Edinburgh) spoke to The Sunday Post about the implications of Brexit on dementia research. He warns that Brexit will have 'bleak' implications on pioneering Scottish research into dementia.

Craig Ritchie said: “From a Scottish perspective, two of the major global dementia projects are being led from Scotland. In terms of influential projects and investment around public health and prevention, we usually take the lead, and in the UK in general we are second only to America for research output. EPAD is EU funded by the Innovative Medicine Initiative and we received 67 million Euros for this project. While that money is secure, I have no doubt in my mind that we will not be in a position to lead on future projects. There are no boundaries to knowledge and ideas but if we place boundaries in front of the people who have them, there is no good side. The people who suffer the most are the patients and those at risk of developing dementia. If you have the best and brightest in academia all operating here, it doesn’t take much of a leap to see how that can affect what’s going on in the hospital wards. The other factor is if the economy suffers, it will affect how much money is invested in the NHS. We don’t know what Brexit will look like but I don’t see any upside.”

Talking about the dementia studies that are currently taking place, Professor Ritchie said "People now recognise that it’s what we do in our mid-life that impacts on issues like heart attacks and we have to put that message out there about dementia, too. We set up the PREVENT project five years ago and that will identify mid-life risks for later-life dementia through tests such as brain scans and lumbar punctures. We’re about to start looking at the data from the first 210 people and are also planning on recruiting volunteers in Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh for further research. I believe in the next three to five years we are going to understand much better about how dementia develops.”

Prof Ritchie is the Professor of the Psychiatry of Ageing at the University of Edinburgh having moved from his role as Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Mental Health at Imperial College London in October 2014. He is also Director of the Centre for Dementia Prevention at the University of Edinburgh.