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Leading dementia scientists from across the globe will gather in Birmingham this week for Alzheimer’s Research UK Conference 2012, the country’s largest dedicated dementia research conference. The event, which takes place on Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 March, allows scientists to share the very latest research findings and hear about progress being made towards defeating dementia.

Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, holds its annual conference in a different city each year. The event will cover a range of topics, and is an opportunity for researchers to share ideas and pool their expertise – kick-starting new collaborations that could speed up progress towards new treatments. Speakers include:

Dr Sarah Aldred, a dementia researcher at the University of Birmingham, co-ordinates Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Midlands Research Network, which will host this year’s conference, said:

“We’re thrilled to be hosting this conference, which is a great way of bringing together scientists from a range of research backgrounds who all have a common mission – defeating dementia. We urgently need better ways to diagnose, treat and prevent dementia, and scientists must work together if we are to achieve those goals. This annual event is a fantastic chance for researchers to share their knowledge, and helps foster a collaborative spirit that can be a real boost to research.”

Prof Eef Hogervorst, of Loughborough University, who will describe how people could reduce their risk of developing dementia from midlife through simple lifestyle choices;

Dr Ottavio Arancio, of Columbia University in New York, who will talk about new approaches to developing treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia;

and Prof Patrizia Mecocci, of the University of Perugia in Italy, who will describe the role of antioxidants in brain ageing.

Lez Milligan, from Atherstone, near Coventry, knows all too well the devastating effects of dementia, as his mother Rita died with vascular dementia last year, more than a decade after the death of his father, Charles, who also struggled with dementia.

He said:

“My mum nursed my dad when he had dementia. She was always such a feisty lady and, sadly, none of us noticed the signs when vascular dementia crept up on her too. She had been such a strong character, and to watch her deteriorate and become more confused was heartbreaking.

“I chose to support Alzheimer’s Research UK because I believe that research is the only way to beat this devastating disease, yet dementia research is desperately underfunded. It’s great to see this important event being hosted here in Birmingham, and to know that scientists are making such good progress.”

Dr Eric Karran, Research Director at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“We’re proud to be welcoming some leading researchers to our conference, which promises to be a lively and engaging event. In spite of shockingly low levels of investment into dementia research, we know that UK scientists are already making a big impact in this area. Our researchers have the potential to make real strides towards defeating Alzheimer’s disease and other causes of dementia, but they need the support and resources to do it.

“Dementia is now the greatest health challenge our society faces – with 820,000 people in the UK affected, including 9,000 people in Birmingham alone, the condition already costs our economy £23bn a year. The need for effective treatments for dementia has never been more urgent, but if we are to achieve this, it will take a huge research effort.”