As the Neuroscience Team Leader at MAC Clinical Research; an honorary researcher at Lancaster University and a community event organiser, Dr Penny Foulds explains why Join Dementia Research is central to what she does.

Personal experience

“I have personal experience of dementia in my family” explains Penny, “my grandparents developed Alzheimer’s disease and it was this that spurred me on to search for answers and do whatever I could to help.”

After completing her PhD in Biological Sciences at Lancaster, Penny went on to pursue an academic career researching biomarkers in neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s and forms of dementia.

Several years ago, she moved into the commercial sector but still retains her honorary role at the University.

“Working in both academic research and for a clinical research organisation has enabled me to learn about every aspect of the drug development process. And, of course, clinical trials are pivotal to the success of any new medication. Research fails if there is a lack of recruitment, so we rely on registries like Join Dementia Research.

“Because Join Dementia Research matches volunteers to studies they are eligible for, the process is made very efficient and works really well for volunteers and researchers alike.”

Developing potential treatments

Through her work at MAC Clinical Research, Penny is currently working on a Phase 2b/3 study investigating oral Anavex 2-73 (blarcamesine) in people with early Alzheimer’s disease  – a drug that has the potential to slow down the progression of the condition. 

Penny explains:

“Nearly half of the people on this study have been recruited through Join Dementia Research. They are joining hundreds of volunteers from around the world to test the efficacy of Anavex 2-73 for those with mild Alzheimer’s. It is incredible to think that these people could be part of the next big breakthrough in dementia treatment.”

Community support

When Penny is not in a clinic setting, she enjoys contributing to dementia support networks in the community.

She says:

“I helped set up the Lancaster Freshers Young Onset Cafe, for people of working age who are diagnosed with a neurological condition and also ‘Dementia Hubs’ in Lancaster, Morecambe and the Fylde Coast for people living with dementia and other neurodegenerative conditions.  

“As well as providing the chance to speak to professionals such as solicitors, mobility specialists and nurses, these informal get-togethers are an opportunity for people to meet others in the same situation and share experiences.”

Never one to miss an opportunity, Penny also uses these forums to tell people about Join Dementia Research “I always have a pile of leaflets in my car!” she says.

Get involved

If you’re a researcher and inspired by Penny’s story, find out more about how you can get involved.