14 November 2017

Sign up now: take action from mid-life to maintain healthy brain



People in Hong Kong aged 50 and over are being invited to join a ground-breaking online study called PROTECT, to help learn how they can maintain a healthy brain in later life.

Scientists know that improving lifestyle factors from mid-life onwards can reduce people’s risk of dementia by a third – but as yet little is known about what combination of actions really prove to be lasting and effective.

Now, the University of Exeter, who is leading PROTECT, is partnering with The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), for the first in a series of international roll-outs of Exeter’s innovative and large-scale PROTECT programme.

Already, more than 25,000 people have signed up to the UK version of PROTECT. Researchers are now offering people in Hong Kong the opportunity to take part, free of charge, to help test the latest emerging evidence on how to maintain a sharper brain. The study is conducted online, so interested people will be able to participate from the comfort of their own homes.

Prof. Clive BALLARD, Professor of Age-Related Diseases and Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Exeter Medical School, said: “We are delighted to launch PROTECT in Hong Kong, as the first phase of our international expansion. We know that people are living longer worldwide, and we need large-scale research to be able to support them to stay mentally healthy. This trial is a simple option for those involved to find out what really works for them, and for researchers to be able to conduct large-scale trials that will have a real impact on maintaining brain health worldwide.”

Prof. Linda LAM, Director of the Dementia Research Unit at the Faculty of Medicine of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, said many people are puzzled about whether dementia is an inevitable part of ageing.

She said, ‘Hong Kong sees a rapidly ageing population. Awareness of dementia becomes increasingly significant to the well-being of the whole society.  It is important that individuals are informed of factors that promote successful and healthy ageing, and are able to take care of their own health to minimize the risks of decline. PROTECT provides a cutting-edge platform that will help us learn much more about this, so that we can help formulate meaningful action plans to support people in staying sharp in older age. I’d encourage people to sign up, both for their own benefit, and to make a real difference to global research on this crucial topic.’

The large numbers of people involved in PROTECT enable world-leading researchers to conduct a series of trials simultaneously. They can test lifestyle factors that research suggests could help maintain brain health, such as diet, exercise, genetics (via postal swabs), vitamins and food supplements, and brain training – all without the need for participants to visit a clinic.

Integral to the trial is a battery of cognitive tests measuring aspects of brain function, including memory, attention and reasoning.

The collaboration between CUHK and Exeter is part of a commitment to strengthen cooperation between the two institutions.

The University of Exeter is a world leader in dementia research and is working to improve the lives of older people through discovering the causes of dementia, reducing risk, identifying new treatments and improving care and quality of life.

PROTECT was launched in Hong Kong yesterday, November 13th, at a University of Exeter and Brain Health Initiative (BHI) ‘Global Conversation’ event, asking: ‘Can We Prevent dementia?’

To find out more or to sign up to PROTECT, free of charge from the 13th November, go to http://hk.protect-study.org.

About the Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

The Faculty of Medicine of The Chinese University of Hong Kong was set up to meet the needs of society by providing graduates with the professional development and knowledge that equips them to be caring and competent medical practitioners.

As a young medical school established in 1981, the Faculty ranks among the world’s top 50 medical schools in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017. Currently, the Faculty has 5 schools and 14 departments, offering courses in 9 undergraduate programmes and a number of postgraduate programmes. To date, more than 20,000 graduates and undergraduates students have passed through the Faculty.  http://www.med.cuhk.edu.hk

About the University of Exeter Medical School

The University of Exeter Medical School is improving global health through the development of high quality graduates and world-leading research that has international impact.

As a Russell Group university, Exeter combines this world-class research with very high levels of student satisfaction. The University of Exeter Medical School’s Medicine programme is ranked 5th in the Guardian Guide 2018, while Medical Imaging is ranked 2nd, in the Complete University Guide 2018, under Radiography. Exeter has over 19,000 students and is ranked 14th in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), the University ranked 16th nationally, with 98% of its research rated as being of international quality. Exeter’s Clinical Medicine research was ranked 3rd in the country, based on research outputs that were rated world-leading. Public Health, Health Services and Primary Care research also ranked in the top ten, in joint 9th for research outputs rated world-leading or internationally excellent. Exeter was named The Times and The Sunday Times Sports University of the Year 2015-16, in recognition of excellence in performance, education and research. https://medicine.exeter.ac.uk/

Prof. Linda Lam Chiu Wa, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, CUHK
Prof. Linda Lam Chiu Wa, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, CUHK

Prof. Clive Ballard, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of University of Exeter Medical School
Prof. Clive Ballard, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of University of Exeter Medical School