Trinity researchers awarded prestigious funding for dementia research

TILDA researchers will collaborate with two other universities to better understand the causes of dementia

Trinity researchers have been awarded a highly competitive US National Institute of Health (NIH) grant to research determinants of physical and brain health in ageing. These scientists, as part of the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA), contribute key research to expand our knowledge of dementia-related diseases. 

TILDA is a large-scale longitudinal study on ageing in Ireland and collects information on all aspects of health, economic and social circumstances from people aged 50 and over, every two years. 

In Ireland, the numbers of people over 80 will rise by 65% in the next 20 years. Cognitive impairment and dementia are present in 1 in 5 people in this age group. Dementia is a progressive extreme decline of cognitive impairment and is one of the major causes of disability and dependency worldwide. 

Declines in cognitive ability can affect mental abilities such as memory, thinking, language, and independent living. According to the World Health Organisation, roughly 50 million people have dementia worldwide, with nearly 10 million new cases every year. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease and contributes up to 70% of cases. 

Dr Christine Mc Garrigle, Social Epidemiology Senior Research Fellow  at TILDA and project lead said:

“There is no singular test used to diagnose types of dementia. By gathering data from what we know about the symptoms, diagnoses and experiences of older people living in Ireland this will improve assessments, tests and treatments to improve cognitive ageing outcomes for patients in the future.”

Trinity will collaborate with the University of Michigan, the University of Southern California, Queen’s University Belfast and University College London in order to better understand the causes and effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. 

The new programme is known as ‘ HCAP’ and will expand research opportunities on the epidemiology and repercussions of cognitive decline and dementia. The aim of the study is to create a unique dataset with longitudinal measurements. These measurements will detail causes, connections, and consequences of cognitive decline. This will strengthen and develop scientific knowledge for the assessment of cognitive performance and it’s functional limitations. 

Professor Rose Anne Kenny, Principal Investigator of TILDA and head of Medical Gerontology at Trinity College Dublin said: 

“We look forward to contributing our expertise alongside our international counterparts,  to harmonising and strengthening analytical measures, and acquiring a better understanding of dementia risk factors. This will provide us with new approaches for prevention and possibly treatment.”

Nina Chen

Nina Chen is the Deputy SciTech Editor for Trinity News, and a Junior Sophister student of Chemical Sciences.