Dementia specialist MP visits University

Two smiling women stand either side of a pop up banner

University alumna and former public health researcher, Debbie Abrahams MP (pictured right) made a recent visit to the city to meet University of Liverpool researchers and find out more about their work to tackle dementia.

As Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Dementia, she was invited to the Liverpool Dementia Research Group. Here she met academics as well as those who have lived and professional experiences of the condition.

Debbie attended a seminar led by Dr Clarissa Giebel (pictured left), Senior Research Fellow in the Institute of Population Health at the University of Liverpool and at the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration North West Coast. Clarissa introduced her work investigating health inequalities in dementia and gave a platform for other spokespeople from her Dementia Research Group to present. NIHR and Alzheimer’s Society funded postdoctoral researcher Megan Polden talked about her current research into music and dementia. Hilary Tetlow, a public advisor from the Dementia Group, also talked about her lived experience of the disease and subsequent work to help local communities with Dr Giebel.

Debbie was the final speaker, explaining her role in the APPG. The cross-party group is made up of MPs and Peers with an interest in dementia and together they lead inquiries – which can be seen here.

As an alumna of the University, Debbie talked about her research work in public health focusing on health inequalities at the University for more than 10 years, and how this ultimately led her into politics. She remarked that it was great how Dr Giebel and her team were combining her two passions: inequalities and dementia. Debbie talked about how her first degree in biochemistry had helped understand and appreciate the work being undertaken to, for example, identify biomarkers for dementia screening. But significantly it was her experience of caring for her mum following her diagnosis with Alzheimer’s Disease that was most important in the work that’s being undertaken, for example, on developing personalised care for people living with dementia.

Dr Clarissa Giebel said: “More than 900,000 people are living with dementia in the UK, with numbers expected to reach 1 million by 2024. So, we were honoured to welcome Debbie in Liverpool and give her an insight into the work we’re doing to tackle the inequalities people face both pre and post a dementia diagnosis. It was fantastic to hear more about Debbie’s work and I hope we can continue our conversations with her and collaborate on this issue that affects so many people.”

Debbie Abrahams MP said: “We know that dementia is now the leading cause of death ahead of cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke, and is also a major cause of disability later in life. It’s a global public health concern, which not only affects the person living with the condition, but their family members and friends. In my role as Co-Chair it’s vital for me to meet the people who are using their knowledge and expertise to tackle this issue.

“I was fascinated to get an insight into the range of studies that are happening in Liverpool and hear the voices of those who have lived experience. There is much work to be done to address inequalities and I will certainly be taking my discussions back with me to the APPG.”