A model Institute?

The Byrd Institute, Tampa, Florida is an interesting example of an inter-disciplinary academic institute in practice. http://health.usf.edu/byrd/  I presented there earlier this month, Raising awareness of dementia: disseminating research via public engagement activities, which ties in with recent developments in this primarily NIH funded unit which is part of the University of South Florida. We toured the labs, where staff and students work alongside each other with mice at one end of the lab to computer images of human brains at the other. The second floor of the building is dedicated to screening for dementia and provides an example of dementia friendly design where people with dementia and their families spend the day going through the variety of tests that will lead to an often long awaited diagnosis of dementia. The Byrd Institute began as an independent unit on University property before becoming part of the University. Staff from across Faculties work in or are linked to the Institute providing an excellent exemplar of inter-disciplinary working. From screening in retirement villages to recuriting participants to clinical research trials this institute is slowly building a large data base of people with dementia as well as adults with early signs of mild cognitive impairment in a region known for attracting retirement migrants. They are now committed to enhanving their public outreach work and have recruited a social scientist to take this forward in the coming months. They have a wish to raise awareness of dementia within their local community and will achieve this by an ambitious outreach programme which will also contribute to increasing their pool of potential research participants in future clinical, neuroscience and social science projects.