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Dementias Portfolio Development Group


Published: 30 May 2019

Version: May2019/1.0

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Our mission

The Dementias Portfolio Development Group (PDG) is composed of experienced researchers from diverse disciplines and lay members within the dementia field that promote the development of innovative ideas into funded research.

The remit, structure and governance of the Dementias PDG are somewhat similar to their predecessor, the Clinical Studies Groups. Broadly, it includes identifying research gaps as well as supporting Writing Groups to formulate and prepare grant applications for clinical studies and health and social care research; including research conducted outside of NHS settings.


The Dementias PDG meet virtually three times per year, with additional subgroups and working parties established as required. These are coordinated by the Clinical Research Network, and funded by the NIHR and medical research charities.

Who we are

Chair: Chris Fox, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, University of East Anglia & Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust


Barbara Woodward-Carlton, lay member, has been involved with research into dementia since 1999 when Alzheimer's Society launched the Research Network. Her extensive experience includes setting research priorities, reviewing applications, sitting on grant panels and steering groups and taking in part in consultations and focus groups among others.

Craig Ritchie, Chair of the Psychiatry of Ageing and Director of the Centre for Dementia Prevention, University of Edinburgh

David Challis, Professor of Community Care Research; Director PSSRU at Manchester; Associate Director NIHR School for Social Care Research; NIHR Senior Investigator

Fiona Poland, Professor of Social Research Methodology, School of Health Sciences, University of East Anglia

Gill Livingston, Professor of Psychiatry of Older People, Division of Psychiatry, University College London

Ian Maidment, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacy, Aston University

Ian McKeith, Professor of Old Age Psychiatry, Newcastle University Institute for Ageing

John Gallacher, Director of MRC Dementias Platform UK, Professor of Cognitive Health, University of Oxford

Jonathan Schott, Reader in Clinical Neurology, University College London

Linda Clare, Centre for Research in Ageing and Cognitive Health, University of Exeter

Phyo Myint, Professor, Clinical Chair in Medicine of Old Age, University of Aberdeen

Rob Howard, Professor of Old Age Psychiatry, University College London

Roy Jones, Professor, The Research Institute for the Care of the Elderly

Shirley Nurock, lay member, first person appointed to the Alzheimer's Society Research network of volunteers (QRD). Has extensive experience in reviewing and prioritizing grant applications. A co-applicant on several major trials, she was the first carer to receive funding from Alzheimer's Study for a project looking at Quality of life for people with dementia in care homes.

Susan Boex, lay member, Research Network Volunteer for the Alzheimer's Society for 10 years.

Tom Dening, Professor of Dementia Research, University of Nottingham & Honorary Consultant in Old Age Psychiatry, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Zuzana Walker, Reader in Psychiatry of the Elderly, University College London

Richard Oakley, Head of Research, Alzheimer’s Society

Katherine Gray, Research Grants Manager, Alzheimer’s Society

Sophie Roberts, Research Grants Officer, Alzheimer’s Society

Jenny Gabriel, PhD student studying the association between obesity and Alzheimer's disease at the University of Dundee

Sara Imariso, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK

Hannah Dobson, Research Manager - Alzheimer's Research UK

Louise Allan, Professor of Geriatric Medicine

Monica Morris, Chartered physiotherapist, trials methodologist and Director for Mind, Brain, Neuroscience Trials in the Centre for Trials Research (CTR) at Cardiff University

Claudia Cooper, Professor of Psychiatry of Older Age - Division of Psychiatry - Faculty of Brain Sciences, University College London

Paul Donaghy, NIHR Intermediate Clinical Fellow

Katie Featherstone, Professor of Sociology and Medicine, and Director of the Geller Institute of Ageing and Memory within the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of West London

Mizanur Khondoker, Associate Professor in Medical Statistics, Norwich Medical School

Bernadette McGuinness, Clinical Professor, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences - Centre for Public Health

Clare Fons, Programme Manager for Neurodegeneration

John O'Brien, National Specialty Lead for Dementia - Professor of Old Age Psychiatry

Catherine Quinn, Associate Professor - The Centre for Applied Dementia Studies

Martin Rossor, NIHR National Director for Dementia Research, Professor Emeritus, and Principal Research Associate at the UCL

Lee Shepstone, Professor of Medical Statistics, Norwich Medical School

Rutendo Muzambi, MPharm MSc PhD. Research Fellow. Epidemiology

Jaydip Ray, Ear, Nose and Throat Specialty Lead, Yorkshire and Humber

Anne Schilder, ENT surgeon and trialist based at University College London's Ear Institute and practices Paediatric ENT at the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital.

Tracy Harman, NIHR CRN Assistant Specialty Cluster B Lead

Writing group support

Writing groups are time-limited groups comprising of researchers who wish to collaborate to take a research idea into a submitted grant proposal. Expressions of interest from researchers interested in applying to Writing Groups’ support are now being accepted. Support offered includes practical advice over expertise, applicants, patient involvement and study design, as well as logistic support for writing group meetings and post-award advice.

We aim to assess and provide feedback on whether the Dementias PDG can support your proposal within one week of submission. Please contact us if you have not heard within this timeframe. If you have any queries, please email:

ECR Mentoring Workshops Summary

It is well recognised that support is urgently required to foster the careers of early career researchers (ECRs) within the field of dementia. In September 2019, Professor Katie Featherstone (Director of the Geller Institute of Ageing and Memory, University of West London) presented the Dementias Portfolio Development Group (PDG) with a proposal for a workshop model to provide an inclusive mentoring forum to support early and mid-career researchers (with a particular, but not exclusive, focus on supporting women, researchers from minority ethnic groups and returning researchers) in the field of dementia research.

Initially set up to run as four face-to-face workshops over the course of a year, the programme was adapted in response to COVID-19 restrictions, Professor Featherstone led the group of 12 ECRs in monthly workshops (virtually using Zoom) over a 15-month period (March 2020- May 2021) with the support of ECRS. The goal of this mentoring group was to support ECRs in developing interdisciplinary grant applications and building interdisciplinary capacity in the field of dementia.

The ECRs were unequivocal in their appreciation of the positive impact the mentoring and group support has had on their careers, evident in the number of achievements, including invitations to be co-applicants on successful NIHR funding applications, successful fellowship applications, and the transition from short term research contracts to permanent academic posts.