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Dementia affects 1 in 6 people over the age of 80, and 40,000 people under 65 in the UK. Research into better diagnosis, treatment and prevention of dementia has become an increased priority for the government and a therefore for the NIHR.

A key focus for our theme is Lewy body disease which include both Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). Combined it is estimated there are over 100,000 people living with DLB and PDD in the UK.

What is the impact of dementia?

Dementia is one of the major causes of later life disability and has higher health and social care costs than cancer and chronic heart disease combined. Care-givers experience significant mental, physical and financial impacts, with women and people from poor socio-economic backgrounds being disproportionately affected.

The quality of life for people living with Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD) and their care-givers is even lower than that of Alzheimer’s disease. Coupled with significantly higher care costs, higher mortality rates and worse prognosis, dementia with Lewy bodies presents as an even greater challenge than other forms of dementia.

How we carry out dementia research

The theme is led by David Burn, Professor of Movement Disorder Neurology and Pro-Vice Chancellor for the Faculty of Medical Sciences at Newcastle University.

Deputy Lead for the theme is John-Paul Taylor, Professor of Translational Dementia Research at Newcastle University.

The theme brings together clinicians and researchers with expertise in this area, all with access to state-of-the-art equipment to carry out translational research studies that enhance our understanding of dementia.

The theme builds on the work achieved under previous NIHR Newcastle BRC funding rounds and focuses on the delivery of world-class Lewy body disease research.

Our work has led to impacts on:

  1. early, accurate diagnosis of DLB, particularly in prodromal stages
  2. understanding of the Lewy body disease course and potential modifiers
  3. understanding of the pathophysiology of key Lewy body disease related symptoms
  4. novel biomarkers for tracking Lewy body disease in terms of prognosis, predicting dementia conversion and response to treatment
  5. trialling of LBD specific interventions
  6. the role of frailty, sarcopenia and delirium in Lewy body disease.

Who we work with

Our dementia theme sits across our Newcastle Hospitals and Newcastle University partnership and thus makes use of both clinical and research experts and facilities from both sites.

We have collaborated with several prominent studies at Newcastle University and have significant links with charities, such as the Lewy Body Society, Alzheimer’s Research UK and the Alzheimer’s Society, who dedicate their time to increasing our knowledge of dementia, as well as supporting people and their families who have been affected by the condition.

Within the NIHR, we link closely with the NIHR Dementia Translational Research Collaboration (TRC), through the Chair, Professor David Burn. We have established and active collaborations with NIHR Biomedical Research Centres in Cambridge, Sheffield and Kings College London, as well as leading on the International Dementia with Lewy bodies Consortium.

Within the Dementia theme, our colleague Professor Lynn Rochester also leads the €50M Mobilise-D Gait analytics project; a consortia of over 150 professionals from 34 participating universities, hospitals, and industry-based companies. The partners have the necessary technical, clinical, and regulatory expertise to work together over a five-year period (2019-2024) to reach the common goal of validating health care technology.

What we cover in this theme

While dementia is not exclusive to the older population, it is commonly associated with the cellular processes of ageing. Our work in dementia sits within an integrated set of research themes that make up the NIHR Newcastle BRC, all of which work closely together to understand their disease area, as well as increasing our understanding of ageing processes.

In this theme, we focus on dementia caused by Lewy Body disease (LBD), which comprises people with Parkinson’s who develop dementia (PDD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB).


Professor David Burn

Dementia Theme Lead and Pro-Vice Chancellor for the Faculty of Medical Sciences at Newcastle University

Professor John-Paul Taylor

Dementia Deputy Theme Lead

Lucy Gee

Trainee (Biomedical Researcher)

Ramtin Mehraram

Trainee (Biomedical Researcher)

Samantha Waite

Trainee (Biomedical Researcher)

Dr Alison Yarnall

Intermediate Clinical Fellow

Professor Lynn Rochester

BRC-supported researcher

Dr Paul Donaghy

Intermediate Clinical Fellow

Professor Andrew Blamire

Dean, Newcastle University Translational and Clinical Research Institute

Dr Silvia Del Din

Newcastle University Academic Track (NUAcT) Fellow

Dementia Projects