National Strategy Workshop Reflections

What a week it’s been for the DEMON Network. Our National Strategy Workshop last Wednesday was the first chance our Steering Committee, National Leads, and Regional Leads have had to meet. During the Workshop Dr Janice Ranson, our Deputy Director, gave a really engaging presentation about the amazing growth of the Network to well over 400 members in just a few months. Our multidisciplinary Network now includes a fantastic mix of data scientists, clinicians, dementia researchers, computer scientists and industry, all keen to collaborate and innovate. Ms Nonye Nwuke, Research Assistant, then gave a fascinating presentation about the results of our recent Collaborative Research Initiatives Survey. In a nutshell it’s clear that our members have wide-ranging interests and are keen to commercialise their research.

Those findings informed our discussions about what we should be doing and how we can most effectively work together. We agreed our five Grand Challenges (see below), and set out our plans for eight Working Groups to deliver practical and tangible outputs over the next year and beyond. Knowledge sharing, collaborative papers and funding applications, and deeper partnerships with organisations including industry will all be key to our success. We’re aiming to get our Working Groups set up and launched within a month so that we don’t lose momentum. Similarly we’ll get our National Strategy Report out to you soon, which will outline our vision and the concrete steps we’ll be taking.

There’s also lots of other exciting stuff in the pipeline, for example we’re establishing a formal partnership with the UK Dementia Research Institute (DRI) – see our newsletter for your invitation to the upcoming launch event. Thank you to everyone who’s helped make the Network so successful; particularly given the difficult circumstances we’ve found ourselves in recently. Now that we’ve built the Network it’s time to get serious and make a real difference. I’m delighted to be working with such an exciting bunch of innovators to do just that.

     Prof David Llewellyn, University of Exeter and the Alan Turing Institute, DEMON Network Lead

Feedback from the Workshop:

“Great @DEMONNetworkUK national strategy meeting today. Exciting times ahead for collaborative dementia research!”

  Dr Timothy Rittman, University of Cambridge, East Regional Lead

“Really interesting morning attending the @DEMONNetworkUK National Strategy workshop. Exciting things to come out in the National Strategy Report, including our grand challenges and new working groups – watch this space!”

     Dr Ríona McArdle, Newcastle University, North Regional Lead

“The workshop provided a significant opportunity to discuss the way forward with the DEMON network and facilitated a common focus for the wide group of experts that are members.  I was extremely impressed at the breadth of skills and experience in the network and the coming together of individuals from so many disciplines with a common purpose.  From the workshop it feels like the network has a real momentum now and I was impressed by the collegiate attitude of the members.  I look forward to further meetings and feel great things will come from the network’s efforts.  I will not hesitate to recommend membership to my colleagues working in the dementia and Artificial Intelligence research areas.”

     Prof Graham Ball, Nottingham Trent University, Midlands Regional Lead

“Meeting the full UK-wide Network for the first time was really exciting.  After hearing about the themes on intelligent experimental medicine and biomarkers, I look forward to next steps when we start the collaborations on these new ideas.”

     Dr Laura Winchester, University of Oxford, Thames Valley Regional Lead

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