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

Medical School head wins international award for brain research and leadership

The Executive Dean of the University of Exeter Medical School has won a prestigious international award recognising his outstanding research and leadership.

Professor Clive Ballard, Executive Dean and Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Exeter Medical School and also the College of Medicine and Health, has been presented with the 2019 Weston Brain Institute International Outstanding Achievement Award in Lisbon, Portugal.

The £25,000 award recognises an exceptional researcher who has made significant advances in accelerating the development of therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases of aging through translational research, has demonstrated remarkable leadership, and has a record of impeccable citizenship in the research community. This year’s prize was provided by the Selfridges Group and was open to researchers based in Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

Professor Ballard said: “I’m absolutely honoured and delighted to receive the extremely prestigious 2019 Weston Brain Institute International Outstanding Achievement Award. I would like to thank the Weston Brain Institute for recognising our work in this way, and all my excellent colleagues at the University of Exeter and fantastic collaborators for all of their support. The dementia research field is at a pivotal point, and we look forward to turning research opportunities into benefits for people with dementia over the next 10 years.”

Professor Ballard is a world leader in dementia prevention and drug discovery, and an advocate for improved care for patients of neurodegenerative diseases of ageing. Throughout his career, Professor Ballard has led or co-led more than 30 clinical trials that evaluate various therapeutic interventions for neurodegenerative diseases of aging. His landmark clinical trials include the DART AD trial that highlighted the major long-term impact of using anti-psychotics on mortality in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients, and the HTA-SADD trial for testing the use of sertraline and mirtazapine for the treatment of depression in AD patients.

In addition to drug development, Professor Ballard is also heavily involved in the study of prevention strategies and alternative treatment opportunities for AD. For example, along with colleagues, he developed PROTECT, an online-based project, now adopted by the Dementia Platform UK, that aims to understand why some people develop dementia by collecting participants’ information on demographics, lifestyle, cognitive abilities, and DNA samples, year after year.

Professor Ballard has published over 500 peer-reviewed manuscripts, and has been cited over 50,000 times. In the past 15 years, he has garnered more than £100 million in research funding. Professor Ballard also held leadership positions in a number of organizations, including Director of Research for Alzheimer’s Society in the UK (2003-2013), where he guided national policy around dementia treatment and care. In 2015, Professor Ballard was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. Professor Ballard is currently the Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean, Professor of Age Related Diseases at the University of Exeter College of Medicine and Health.

Alexandra Stewart, Executive Director of the Weston Brain Institute, said: “I’m delighted that Professor Ballard was named this year’s recipient of the 2019 Weston Brain Institute International Outstanding Achievement award. Professor Ballard is a highly talented clinician who has developed important prevention strategies and alternative treatment opportunities for patients,” said.

Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vice-chancellor of the University of Exeter, said: “huge congratulations to Clive on this extremely prestigious accolade, which is very well deserved. Dementia and ageing research are growing priorities for Exeter, and it’s great to see our research community go from strength to strength.”

Professor Ballard is the fourth recipient of the annual Weston Brain Institute International Outstanding Achievement award. The 2016 winner was Dr Peter St George-Hyslop (Professor, University of Toronto) for accomplishments that include developing mouse models of AD as tools for drug development. In 2017, The Selfridges Group Foundation named Professor Nicholas Fox (Professor, University College London) the winner for accomplishments that include developing neuroimaging methods for the detection, diagnosis and monitoring of progression in neurodegenerative diseases of aging. The 2018 winner was Dr. Anthony Lang (Professor, University of Toronto) for his leadership in clinical trials and development of alternative therapeutic interventions for PD. The 2020 award will be supported by The W. Garfield Weston Foundation and presented to a researcher based in Canada.

Date: 28 March 2019

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