2016: the Tipping Point in Dementia Prevention

PREVENT: The Tipping PointCo-Chief Investigator

I like the following definition of ‘tipping point’: ‘…the critical point in a situation, process, or system beyond which a significant and often unstoppable effect or change takes place…’. I like this because of several key words which I think are important for PREVENT: ‘critical’, ‘significant’, ‘unstoppable’ and ‘change’.

We ended the year opening up our second site in Edinburgh, following the success in West London. The number of people wanting to take part was over five times the numbers we could take on to the study because of limited resources. These people in two cities reflect the interest in the move towards dementia prevention. There is a real feeling that dementia research is undergoing a change: preventing dementia has real currency now from governments, scientists and the public who believe in what we are trying to do; prevention if the future and the timing is critical.

In 2015, the PREVENT study also became significant: we presented the project for the first time at major conference and we are increasingly being recognised as one of the key cohorts in Dementias Platform UK and the European Prevention of Alzheimer’s Dementia initiative.  Our partnership with the Alpha project in Barcelona indexes the global reach of PREVENT and the project has acted as the cornerstone of the new Centre for Dementia Prevention at the University of Edinburgh. We rounded off 2015 with looking at the pilot data for the first time and already we are seeing some signals of changes in the brain decades before dementia will develop. This is crucial to help understand and ultimately overcome risk.

In 2016, we need to do more.

In the USA there is a cornerstone project called ADNI (Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative). ADNI has recruited about the same number of people as we are targeting in PREVENT (about 800), it has examinations and testing like PREVENT and to date it has cost about $80,000,000 and produced over 1,000 academic publications. PREVENT has secured just over £700,000 of funding and recruited 25% of the population in ADNI – in other words we are about 25 times more efficient than ADNI. However, to run PREVENT over the next 5 years needs closer to £5,000,000 of funding and we need to be imaginative on how we have achieve this significant funding. We need your help.

In 2016 we will launch in earnest the PREVENT Membership Scheme. This is our grassroots moment; our way of reaching out to the public and getting more people involved in the fight against dementia. By showing your support and becoming a member, you will help us achieve our common goal to overcome this life changing condition.

Let’s make 2016 our tipping point, an unstoppable force to change for good. Preventing dementia is comparable in terms of scale and impact to the progress made against HIV, in terms of space exploration and in terms of understanding sub-atomic physics; through investment in science, we can defeat this disease.


Best wishes for a happy, healthy 2016.