By Dr Ross Dunne, Academy Faculty
The Dementia Academy has come a long way in 4 years. We started as a forum for discussion and planning around a clinical pathway, and we have been from London to Dubai and back providing bespoke courses. We have developed our courses to keep pace with new studies, and listened to feedback from graduates about what works. As with most of the Academy, word of mouth is keeping our seats filled and feedback has never been better.
However, there is clearly a desire for more detail from graduates and those who see themselves (either now or in the future) as clinical and research leaders in the world of neurodegenerative diseases. For them, we are constructing more advanced courses focusing on specific aspects of individual neurodegenerative disease. In doing so, we’re taking a lead from the PD MasterClass and MS MasterClass, who successfully use a multi-stage model. For us, this is part of moving away from the traditional idea of lumping “dementias” together, conflating cognitive impairment with functional loss. We want to move with the rising tide of researchers and funders (ARUK in particular) to begin to define these neurodegenerative diseases as early as possible, enrol our patients in clinical trials, and work towards disease modification for all these conditions. For starters, we are planning a MasterClass in Alzheimer’s disease in December 2020, which will feature globally acclaimed researchers and teachers in a 2-day residential seminar in Sheffield. This is aimed at consultants and higher trainees in both behavioural neurology and old age psychiatry. Our special guest speakers will include Philip Scheltens, Professor of Neurology in Amsterdam and John O’Brien, Foundation Professor of Old Age Psychiatry in Cambridge, both global leaders in Alzheimer’s research. Our programme will include advanced aspects of diagnosis, neuroimaging in AD, cognitive assessments, clinical trials, the global development perspective, the use and development of fluid biomarkers, the state of the art in cognitive assessment and more.
We aim for people to come away from our 2 day course able to debate the cutting edge in Alzheimer’s disease and immerse themselves in the literature, but also to develop QI projects, research projects or even business cases afterwards (What would demand be for biomarkers? If we had PET-amyloid, how many would we use a year?). In spring/summer 2021, we’ll bring our delegates back to present posters on their work and award a prize for the best. As with all the MasterClasses we will bring our workshop style to this new module, and make it rich, interactive and fun. We look forward to welcoming delegates to Sheffield for 2 days of AD specialist training.
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