Promising future leader receives £1 million to examine language about dementia

Dr Gavin Brookes head and shoulders photograph

A Lancaster University linguist will head a research team raising awareness of the implications that communication around dementia can have for public understanding and for the wellbeing of those diagnosed with the syndrome.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) announced today that Dr Gavin Brookes has been awarded a Future Leaders Fellowship of £1,044,105 for his research project ‘Public Discourses of Dementia: Challenging stigma and promoting personhood’.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway has announced 97 of the UK’s most promising science and research leaders will be backed with £113 million to help bring their innovative ideas from lab to market and provide bold solutions to tackle major global issues ranging from climate change to chronic disease.

She said:“We are putting science and innovation at the heart of our efforts to build back better from the pandemic, empowering our scientific leaders of tomorrow to drive forward game-changing research that could improve all our lives and boost the UK economy.

“Supported by £113m, the Future Leaders Fellowships will equip our most inventive scientists and researchers across the country with the tools to develop and bring their innovations to market quickly - all while helping to secure the UK’s status as a global science superpower.”

Dr Brookes will lead a team on this innovative project which involves the large-scale, systematic analysis of the language and images that are used to communicate about dementia by the media, public health bodies, charities, and in social media and online support groups.

The project team will work closely with people with dementia, charities, advocacy groups and media representatives to design guidelines and deliver communication training which helps to reduce stigma while promoting genuine awareness of the syndrome and the possibility for people to ‘live well’ with it.

“I am very excited to have secured a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship because this will provide me with the opportunity to carry out a programme of research that can bring substantial benefit to people with dementia and society as a whole,” said Dr Brookes.

“This research has the potential to improve the lives and life chances of people with dementia.

“With its solid links between disciplines and strong connections with the public, Lancaster University is the ideal place for my team to carry out this important work and to realize its benefits – for people with dementia, their loved ones, and society in general. “

UKRI Chief Executive, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, said: “I am delighted that UKRI is able to support the next generation of research and innovation leaders through our Future Leaders Fellowship programme.

“The new Fellows announced today will have the support and freedom they need to pursue their research and innovation ideas, delivering new knowledge and understanding and tackling some of the greatest challenges of our time.”

The Future Leaders Fellowships scheme, which is run by UK Research and Innovation, helps universities and businesses in the UK recruit, develop and retain the world’s best researchers and innovators, regardless of their background. Each fellowship will last four to seven years.

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