The group's mission is to empower and enable patient and public involvement in dementia research

Latest News

May 2016

FTD (Frontotemporal Dementia) carers support group

Heeley City Farm is holding a new carers group, the first of its kind in Sheffield, for people who care for people with Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD). The monthly group will consist of chat, meeting people and talks from professionals to help you learn about FTD in an informal setting with like minded individuals.

Set up with the help of neurologists from universities and hospitals and working with the Cerebral Functional Unit in Salford, the leading FTD unit in the UK, this carers meeting can provide relevant and up-to-date information and practical knowledge on FTD.  Held in the Community Classroom by the Peacock Enclosure

For more information please contact the Farm on 0114 2580482 or email

FTD carers group flyer

The AcTo Dementia Project

The AcTo Dementia project launches its website this week, where the primary focus is to recommend Accessible TouchAcTo image 1screen apps for people living with dementia.

All of the apps featured on the website have been tested using an evidence-based app selection framework by researchers from the University of Sheffield and Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences.  Initially the focus is on games and entertainment apps to provide independent activities for people living with dementia, although in the future this will expand to include other types of apps as well.  In addition to app recommendations, the site also features support guides, a community forum and information on the supporting evidence.

Members of the South Yorkshire Dementia Research Advisory Group have contributed to this research on two occasions: toward aspects of the design of the original study when our first two apps were tested by people living with dementia; and more recently toward the setup of the website.  Our experiences of attending the group have been very positive, as members are welcoming and friendly, very willing to participate and not afraid to provide frank and honest feedback.  Their input to our project so far has proved invaluable and we will be hoping to attend again in the future as our research continues.

Visit the website now at for more information and to try out some of the recommended apps.


The AcTo Dementia project is focused on improving the accessibility of touchscreen apps for people living with dementia, with the following objectives:

  • IAcTo image 2dentify key features within touchscreen apps that increase their accessibility for people with dementia
  • Develop an evidence-based framework that can be used to find the most accessible existing touchscreen apps for people with dementia
  • Work with app developers to improve the accessibility of existing apps for people with dementia
  • Share app recommendations with people with dementia and professional and family caregivers on a dedicated website

March 2016

FTD (Fronto Temporal Dementia) support group, Sheffield

A new FTD support group is starting in Sheffield.  Run by brothers, Lee and Andrew Pearse who cared for their mother who had FTD.  Lee is also a film maker and has made a film about his dad (My name is Rod) and one about his mother due for release soon (My name is Val).  For further information please click here.

February 2016

Sheffield Dementia Information Pack 2015

The Sheffield Dementia Information Pack 2015 is an introduction and guide to the medical, care, support and advice services in Sheffield and to living well for those worried about their worsening memory problems and those with a diagnosis of dementia. It will also be useful for family members and carers of these two groups. This information pack can be downloaded by visiting

Meet the Researcher: Julie Simpson

Julie Simpson pic 265 x 339

Julie Simpson is a Lecturer in Translational Neuropathology. She joined the Department of Neuroscience at Sheffield University in 2002 and has been a member of the Neuropathology research group since 2004, working with Professor Paul Ince and Professor Stephen Wharton to investigate the cellular and molecular pathology associated with brain ageing and dementia.

How and why did you get into Dementia research?
I’ve always been fascinated with how the brain works, so I came to Sheffield to study Neuroscience. My final year undergraduate project gave me a taste of what it’s like to work in a lab, and I knew then that I wanted to pursue a career in research. Most of us know someone who has dementia and understand how devastating it can be. I want my research to contribute to our understanding of dementia, and to help move the field forward.

What is it like working in SITraN?
SITraN has brought together a diverse team of enthusiastic scientists and clinicians who are fully supportive of each other’s research and are all working together to improve the lives of patients with neurodegenerative diseases. It’s a great environment with access to cutting edge facilities and state-of-the-art equipment.

Can you briefly describe the research project you are currently working on?
My main research interests are identifying and understanding neuroinflammatory contributions to ageing and dementia, particularly age-associated white matter pathology. I mainly work on brains which have been generously donated for research. This is a fantastic resource as there’s so much we can learn by studying the brains from individuals with dementia.

What do you enjoy most about your job as a researcher?
Every day is different, and you never know what your research will discover. Not all experiments work, but it’s hugely rewarding when they do and you uncover another piece of the puzzle.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
After a series of fixed term post-doc contracts it was great to be appointed to a lectureship position.

Who do you admire the most?
Throughout my career I have been very fortunate to work alongside leading specialists in the fields of neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration. Their commitment, passion and enthusiasm for research has been contagious, and I admire their dedication to high quality research.

What do you like doing in your spare time?
When I get the time, I enjoy gardening. I’m not very green-fingered but it’s very satisfying to grow vegetables and cook with fresh ingredients.

January 2016

Simon Bell


My name is Simon Bell and I trained as a medical doctor at Bristol University qualifying in 2008. I have worked in Bristol, Leeds and Brisbane in Australia as a doctor and moved to Sheffield in 2013 to start working in the field of neurology. I have been lucky enough to gain a national institute of health research academic clinical fellowship award. This has allowed me to take time out of being a medical doctor so I can concentrate on research.

How and why did you get into Dementia research?

I have always been interested in how the brain works, and have always loved science. I have personal experience of what it is like to care for a loved one who has dementia. I think it is one of the hardest diseases for patients and their families to deal with. In my career I want to be a medical doctor that tries to help develop treatments for all the different types of dementia. Doing research is essential for this.

What is it like working in SITraN?

SITraN is a great place to work; there are lots of different scientists here with many different interests. Everybody is very friendly and always happy to share ideas and their knowledge about different scientific techniques and diseases. This means we form really good collaborations and will hopefully develop cures for the diseases we study in SITraN quicker.

Can you briefly describe the research project you are currently working on?

Currently I’m involved with 2 projects. To treat dementia effectively we need to diagnose the condition as early as we can. In our research group we a looking at a technique in which we analyse people’s brain waves to see if they can help us diagnose dementia. The other project I am involved in is trying to make a model of how brain cells talk to each other. This changes in dementia, and if we can understand why this change happens we might be able to develop a treatment to stop it. You can’t take brain cells out of the living brain to do this, so to make my model I will be taking skin cells from people with dementia and transforming them into brain cells.

What do you enjoy most about your job as a researcher?

The thing I enjoy most about my job is discovering new things about the brain that were not known before. I’m just at the start of my research career and so every day that I come to work I seem to learn something new. I find it really exciting that we might be able to develop a new way of investigating dementia that may one day help us develop treatments for the condition.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

Being awarded my National Institute of Health Research Academic Clinical Fellowship has been my career highlight so far.

Who do you admire the most?

I admire the strength families, patients and their carers have that live with dementia. The unwavering devotion that these groups of people give each other is amazing and should have more recognition. I also admire the doctors and scientists that spend their careers trying to cure this disease, and finally I admire my mum, as she made me what I am today and had to put up with a lot to make it happen!

What do you like doing in your spare time?

In my spare time I enjoy playing musical instruments. I play trombone in an orchestra in Sheffield and also enjoy playing the piano. I’m also an avid cricket fan and one of my life’s ambitions is to watch England play a test match in all the test playing countries.

December 2015

Meet the Researcher: Dr Annabelle L. Chambers

How and why did you get into Dementia research?AnnabelleCHambersPhoto
Since my undergraduate studies in pharmacology, I quickly took an interest in neuroscience, and particularly disorders affecting cognition. After undertaking a placement year researching potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease at Eli Lilly and Co.  I knew that this was what I wanted to pursue with my career.  I have just completed a PhD researching the cognitive effects of chemotherapy treatment and antidepressants and have now progressed into the dementia field, looking at the effects of aging on cognition.
What is it like working in SITraN?
SITraN is a very close knit community, where everyone is extremely friendly and helpful. Having only started in the last 3 months, I have settled in very quickly.  The facilities here are fantastic, and working with such brilliant minds is one of the reasons I was attracted to this job.
Can you briefly describe the research project you are currently working on?
I work under the supervision of Prof, Steve Wharton and Dr. Julie Simpson, looking at the epidemiological distribution of Alzheimer’s disease, and how the incidence is affected by diabetes and metabolic disorders. While Alzheimer’s disease pathologies like Tau and amyloid beta protein are the common markers of the disease, they do not correlate with the severity of dementia in patients.  I aim to determine how diabetes may affect cognition and dementia in patients, and how these disorders affect one another.
What do you enjoy most about your job as a researcher?
I want my research to have an outcome that will make a difference to a patient population. I want to achieve something, whether it be knowledge of therapeutic potential, that will improve the quality of life for individuals in some way and that is what makes me work my hardest.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Achieving my doctorate was very special.  The culmination of 4 years work that has finally led me to the job I most wanted to do here at SITraN.
Who do you admire the most?
People that don’t give up when things get hard, and learn to appreciate the good things. They push through and get on with it, whether that be with work or life.  Two people that stand out to me are my previous colleague Dr. Maxine Fowler at Nottingham, and my boyfriend.
What do you like doing in your spare time?
I love exercising: hiking, or climbing are two things I’ve taken on since moving up to Yorkshire.  Also swimming and group exercise classes are very fun. Baking is a favorite of mine too.

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