Meet the Team
The Dementias and Neurodegeneration specialty covers four neurodegenerative diseases - dementia, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease and motor neurone disease, each with a sub-specialty lead. We work across our region to help support the delivery of our research.
Research delivery manager
CRN North East and North Cumbria
Dr Bob Barber
DeNDRoN specialty group lead
Cumbria Northumberland and Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust
Dr Andrew Byrne
Dementia research lead
Cumbria, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust
Dr Alison Yarnall
Parkinson's disease research lead
Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle University
Dr Suresh Komati
Huntington's disease research lead
Cumbria, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust
Dr Tim Williams
Motor neurone disease research lead
Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Steve Pratt's research experience
I am the research delivery manager for children and young people's research, which includes schools, reproductive health and childbirth, genetics, mental health and dementias and neurodegenerative disease specialties for CRN NENC. Since joining the NIHR CRN in 2008 I have worked in a number of operational and strategic leadership roles supporting the delivery of health and care research.
Prior to joining the NIHR I worked as a postdoctoral academic researcher at Durham University and The University of Sheffield within the field of biomedical sciences. I am passionate about enabling the development, delivery and implementation of research that impacts positively on health and care outcomes, through partnership working. Tips to get involved in research include contacting your research and development and CRN specialty team and speak to colleagues who are already involved in research about their experiences.
Dr Bob Barber's research experience
I am specialty group lead for DeNDRoN. My own research has focused on the role of neuroimaging in understanding dementias as well an investigator on a number of commercial and non-commercial clinical trials. I am an honorary clinical senior lecturer with Newcastle University.
Dr Andrew Byrne's research experience
I work as a consultant old age psychiatrist and I am the Local Clinical Research Network Dementia Research Lead as well as a member of several research groups, such as the North East and North Cumbria DeNDRoN Speciality Group. My main research interest is dementia treatment. I am Principal Investigator for several NHS dementia research studies, facilitating patient and carer involvement in research.
Dr Alison Yarnall's research experience
I completed my PhD in 2013 at Newcastle University, which entailed looking at biomarkers of cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s disease. I am now an NIHR BRC clinical senior lecturer at the Translational and Clinical Research Institute, Newcastle University, deputy director of the Clinical Ageing Research Unit (CARU) and honorary consultant in older people’s medicine at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals (NuTH) NHS Foundation Trust.
I have a particular interest in mobility, cognition, gait and falls in people with Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases and have published more than 100 articles in this topic area. I run a specialist clinic for older adults with Parkinson’s and complex health needs in NuTH, in addition to a general medical memory clinic.
Dr Suresh Komati's research experience
I am a consultant in a regional, tertiary care specialist neuropsychiatry service based at Walkergate Park Hospital in Newcastle and am the clinical lead for specialist Huntington’s disease service in the North East of England. I am a principal investigator for Huntington's disease NIHR portfolio studies and work closely with the colleagues within the NIHR.
My other roles include; Huntington’s disease specialty lead for the North East and North Cumbria Clinical Research Network (CRN) and I form part of the national portfolio management group for Huntington’s disease. I also am the regional specialty representative (RSR) for neuropsychiatry in the North East of England and an executive committee member in neuropsychiatry faculty at Royal College of Psychiatrists
Dr Tim Williams's research experience
I am a consultant neurologist at the Royal Victoria Infirmary's Neurosciences Centre where I specialise in motor neurone disorders.
How to get involved
Get in touch
Please contact Dr Bob Barber, specialty lead for DeNDRoN with any questions relating to this specialty.
Join Dementia Research
Promote the Join Dementia Research (JDR) register with colleagues and patients - this is a great way for people to find out what research is taking place and how to get involved - there are already over 50,000 volunteers. You can find out more about JDR here
Refer to our registry
We also run a local registry and are currently accepting referrals for studies. Once a study is available, we will get in touch to see if you are interested. You can refer people via [email protected]
Meet and shadow
Meet and shadow the clinical trials team - this can be a great way to see what the team do especially if you're thinking about a career in research. Contact Bob Barber for more information.
For Parkinson's disease specialists
If you are interested in Parkinson's disease research, sign up to the Clinical Research Network specialty meetings, such as the Parkinson's disease specialty meeting. These meetings take place on a bi-annual basis. Contact Alison Yarnall for more information.
Brain and Movement Research Group
Explore and join the brain and movement research group, this research group aims to deliver innovations in the assessment and treatment of mobility issues across diverse health conditions using the latest technology and digital health resources.
Research stories from our region
What's happening in DeNDRoN research?
- early, accurate diagnosis of dementia with Lewy bodies, particularly in prodromal stages
- understanding of the Lewy body disease course and potential modifiers
- understanding of the pathophysiology of key Lewy body disease related symptoms
- novel biomarkers for tracking Lewy body disease in terms of prognosis, predicting dementia conversion and response to treatment
- trialling of dementia with Lewy bodies specific interventions
- the role of frailty, sarcopenia and delirium in Lewy body disease.
We also run many of our clinical trials in dementia via the Clinical Ageing Research Unit in Newcastle.
Parkinson’s is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world, it is progressive and with no known cure, research is needed to discover new and revolutionary treatments to manage the condition and promote the quality of life for those living with Parkinson's.
Parkinson’s research in the North East has helped in understanding the underlying mechanisms of impairments in cognition, gait and falls in the condition, biomarkers for tracking disease progression, and changes in treatment. There are multiple opportunities to join clinical trials and work in this exciting area including our Biomedical Research Centre (BRC)
Dr Alison Yarnall, Professor of Geriatric Medicine and Honorary Consultant in Older People's Medicine, leads the Parkinson's disease specialty group in the North East and North Cumbria. Meetings are held on a bi-annual basis, bringing together consultants and specialists from across the region to discuss current and future research. Get in touch if you are interested in being added to the distribution list. You can also find examples of the research we do by visiting the Clinical Ageing Research Unit.
Motor Neurone Disease
Motor neurone disease, a rare neurodegenerative condition, impacts the brain and nervous system. Although motor neurone disease is ultimately a fatal disease, thanks to research and innovation, many patients with motor neurone disease continue to live with their condition for many years, maintaining a quality of life. Research has allowed new drugs to be trialled, as well as new diagnostic and monitoring techniques for those in the early stages of the disease.
Dr Timothy Williams (consultant neurologist and regional motor neurone disease care centre director) is the regional medical lead and principal investigator for motor neurone disease research. If you are interested in working with Tim to support research, please get in touch, the regional motor neurone disease research centre is based at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.
Huntington’s disease, a hereditary condition, is a disease that damages nerve cells in the brain, impacting on a patient’s movement, cognition and mental health. Huntington’s disease cannot be cured, however, there are studies that endeavour to establish the underlying genetic cause of the disease, as well as treatments that manage the symptoms to allow those living with Huntington’s to enjoy a quality of life.
Dr Suresh Komati leads research activity as a principal investigator into Huntington’s disease across the North East and North Cumbria, working in collaboration with the Clinical Research Network.
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