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EPUT's interim head of research shares how research has shaped his career

A Consultant from Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) has been researching ways to identify accurate blood tests that can diagnose the different diseases that cause dementia.

Dr Leonidas Chouliaras is a consultant in old age psychiatry within EPUT’s Dementia and Frailty Service at St Margaret’s Hospital, Epping. He is also the Trust’s new Interim Head of Research, and an Assistant Professor at the University of Cambridge.

Dr Chouliaras has been researching ways of understanding and diagnosing dementia for 15 years and is passionate about the role research plays in improving patient care.

He said: “Dementia is a challenge for our society, and for our health system. In all families, there are people living with dementia. It has also had a huge effect on my family.

“The challenge is to find better ways of diagnosing and treating dementia, and the only way we can do that is through research.

“Dementia is the leading cause of death in the UK and, at present, the type of dementia diagnosed is based on a clinical assessment and brain imaging and in some cases using specialised tests such as lumbar punctures or nuclear medicine scans, although these are not widely available.

“Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia while other types of  dementia such as Dementia with Lewy Bodies, vascular dementia and frontotemporal dementia account for up to 40 percent of all dementia cases. Unfortunately,  it can take many years for some people to get an accurate diagnosis of dementia.

“My work has been focusing on better understanding of the interactions between genetic and environmental factors underpinning the diseases that cause dementia through the study of genetic and epigenetic mechanisms. More recently I have been working on blood tests for the early and accurate diagnosis of dementia and particularly for the differential diagnosis between Alzheimer's disease and Dementia with Lewy Bodies, which is the second most common type of dementia in older people.

“The development of blood tests for dementia is key not only for improving the reduced rates of dementia diagnosis across the country and for developing personalised care and management plans, but also to roll out new upcoming treatments for dementia.”

To find out more about research opportunities at EPUT please click here



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