Scotland hosts second world brain health summit

Published on 11th July 2023 by Editorial

This week sees Scottish Brain Sciences CEO, Professor Craig Ritchie co-host the second ever international Brain Health Summit alongside St Andrew’s Head of Biology, Professor Frank Gunn-Moore.

Six weeks after the Scottish government published its new dementia strategy, the University of St Andrew’s is set to welcome the ‘triple helix’ of experts across the NHS, academia and industry for a two-day brain health conference.

Across July 13 and 14, attendees will come together from around the world to hear about the newest developments in neuroscience research and dementia treatment.

As the impact of a worldwide ageing population sees calls for more volunteers to participate in clinical research on neuroprogressive diseases, the conference aims to share research advances and best practice.

Scotland’s new dementia strategy outlines an ambition for all people living with dementia and their carers to access high-quality advice, evidence-based treatment and care – and recognises the changes needed in policy and practice.

Craig Ritchie, Founder and CEO of Scottish Brain Sciences and conference co-host, welcomed the new strategy, sharing that Scotland has made “huge strides” in brain health and dementia prevention.

Professor Ritchie said the first ever Brain Health Summit last year also served as a catalyst for the development of Scottish Brain Sciences:

“The foundations set in 2022 at our inaugural meeting have given us huge confidence to take forward bold and ambitious ideas into 2023.

“The life sciences triple helix in brain health could not have a better incubator and home than Scotland and the University of St Andrews is the ideal host for our ambition. The 2022 meeting was a significant catalyst for the development of Scottish Brain Sciences and I expect equally important and tangible outcomes from this 2023 meeting.”

Chaired by former First Minister and current Chair of the Scottish Brain Health and Dementia Research Strategy Oversight Board, Henry McLeish, the two-day conference will hear from academics across the universities of St Andrews, Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Dr Willie Stewart, Neuropathologist and Honorary Professor of the School of Psychology and Neurosciences at the University of Glasgow, will  to discuss sports and dementia at the conference.

Dr Stewart has previously shared his research into trauma-related brain injuries from football, rugby and other sports, and has highlighted that survivors of domestic violence have gone unrecognised in brain health research.

He will be joined by the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences’ Professor Matt Nolan, who will speak on novel methods investigating how memories are stored, and Dr Terry Quinn, Chair of the Scottish government-funded Brain Health Alliance Research Challenge.

With an international reach, the conference will welcome attendees from US Against Alzheimer’s, the World Dementia Council and the Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation alongside the UK Dementia Research Institute and Scotland’s Chief Scientist Office for Health.

Professor Gunn-Moore, Head of St Andrew’s School of Biology and conference co-host, explained the work following the first Brain Health Summit and highlighted the importance of collaborating across academia, the NHS, charities, and the pharmaceutical industry:

“Since last year’s summit in St Andrews we have been working together to develop a potential fund to assist spin-out companies from Scottish universities involved in neurodegenerative disease research.

“We have developed a consortium with three main aims – firstly, to decide how funding is distributed across many of our universities and secondly, to build cross-party political support for this fund to promote it within Scottish funding agencies.

“This has included support from all parties and the drafting of a letter to the new First Minister highlighting the importance of ongoing collaboration across universities, charities and the pharmaceutical industry. Lastly, it has also been important to generate philanthropic support so we can continue this vital work.”

Sponsored by the new Brain Health Alliance Research Challenge and the Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance (SULSA), the conference comes at a ‘significant time for healthcare in Scotland’, with clinical trials and work around early detection of brain health diseases showing potential for the ageing population.

This article was contributed by the editorial team at