Great minds don’t think alike: Dyson partners with RAD to bring a new perspective to Alzheimer’s research

Posted on the 16th September 2021

The Race Against Dementia Fellowships fuse together a relationship between industry and medicine to explore how technology and different ways of thinking can enable breakthroughs in dementia research and accelerate finding a cure or prevention .

The James Dyson Foundation fund Dr Claire Durrant’s £500,000, five year Fellowship programme at the University of Edinburgh.

Diversity of thought is at the core of research, design and development at Dyson. Engineers, designers, chemists, software specialists from all levels of experience come together, asking questions and creating technologies that solve problems that are not yet answered.

Dyson engineers are helping Claire analyse brain samples on a microscopic level, using in-house equipment and expertise at Dyson’s labs in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. This approach is normally used for future-focused battery research, and it would have unlikely been applied to brain research were it not for this collaboration.

Sir James Dyson: “I believe that engineers can solve some of the world’s biggest problems and we need to inspire more young people to understand the thrill of problem solving. Young people want to change the world and can – we must support them and encourage them. We see this potential every year in the entries submitted to the James Dyson Award; young designers, engineers, software developers tackling global issues head-on. This passion for improving lives and solving problems extends to the medical research that my Foundation supports and the Race Against Dementia Dyson Fellowship is one such example.   

Race Against Dementia are striving to find solutions to one of the most devastating, unanswered problems in the medical world. They are taking a different approach, using new approaches and I am just so pleased to support Clare’s research through the Dyson Fellowship. By encouraging collaboration across industry and asking questions we can challenges convention to find a different and better way of doing things. Over the past ten years Dyson has been doing very serious research into battery development which involves looking at the chemistry of batteries and what goes on inside at a molecular level. This research, as well as the skills and equipment that we have here at Dyson, meant that our engineers can help Claire examine brain tissue atomically as she continues her pioneering research. It’s about approaching things from new angles and I find that very exciting.”

After collaborating online over the past year, Claire visited Dyson’s labs and engineers in July 2021 to get hands-on with the team’s equipment, to better understand its application in her research.

“So far, I’ve designed my experiments using equipment available in my lab. But working with Dyson, I’m asked questions about my methodology and apparatus that I’d never considered. People haven’t thought of working in this way because biology and engineering are two disciplines that normally sit on parallel tramlines. I can’t think of any other science scheme where you get access to different people and game-changing resources in the same way that you do in the Race Against Dementia Dyson Fellowship; it’s really phenomenal.” Dr Claire Durrant

When I created Race Against Dementia, we were driven to partner with some of the world’s leading innovators to support us in our mission to change the culture of dementia research and accelerate progress. James Dyson came on board and was very generous with his contribution towards Race Against Dementia. The only industry that I know that has a problem-solving mentality like his is leading Formula One teams such as Red Bull and McLaren. Working together with Dyson, I am confident we’re going to find a different way of doing things which will break new ground with Claire’s research.

Sir Jackie Stewart OBE, Former F1 driver and Founder of Race Against Dementia.

Introducing the Race Against Dementia Dyson Fellowship.
Copyright James Dyson Foundation

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