03 Jun 2021
By Scientia Professor Henry Brodaty AO
Co-Director Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA), UNSW Sydney and Director, Dementia Centre for Research Collaboration
Having been a professor of ageing and mental health for over 30 years, I know intimately how costly it is to find and screen research participants.
A lack of participants can result in drug trials being shut down. As a researcher, my passion is to find treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia and better ways to help people with dementia and their families. Without appropriate participants, or a large enough sample of the population, we run the risk of failing.
StepUp for Dementia Research is an urgently needed resource that connects individuals of all ages and cognitive abilities to researchers conducting important and exciting studies. These studies are helping us understand dementia and the ageing brain and to improve quality of life for people with dementia.
As an Advisory Board member of StepUp for Dementia Research I am invested in seeing this project succeed as it has in the UK and US, where thousands of volunteers have the opportunity to join studies and researchers can spend their time and research funds honing the science rather than on recruitment strategies. StepUp will revolutionise the way researchers find volunteers while bringing the public closer to the research and science behind medical breakthroughs and scientific inquiry.
StepUp can help us – researchers – access populations and people who, by giving their time to research, can help us understand more about experience, care, treatment, and prevention. However, this is not only through participating in various studies. StepUp also has a robust infrastructure for connecting volunteers to be involved in the actual development of research. We need to co-design studies with the help of people who are affected by dementia and even those concerned that they may develop dementia. Researchers can only know part of the story; we need people with inside knowledge and lived experience to help us .
Research into the ageing brain is important for all of us to live healthy and fulfilling lives at all stages. Involvement of the public through StepUp for Dementia Research gives everyone over 18 years the opportunity to join in dementia research. Your involvement is needed.
StepUp brings research into the 21st century because you can sign up and opt in online with no obligations to participate. That’s why StepUp is a valuable tool for all of us, not just researchers. Participating as a volunteer in research can be stimulating and interesting. Anyone aged 18 or more can join. Researchers need healthy volunteers, people with mild symptoms as well as those with dementia. By signing up you can help others. Please share this message through your network.
We are building a movement to make dementia research more accessible and representative of the public and I hope that you take this opportunity to learn more about dementia and the brain.
Together, we can make a lasting and resounding impact on individuals, families and the community.