BRACE – our chosen charity of the year

Jamie Ellis
December 17, 2021
BRACE – our chosen charity of the year

We’re over the moon to support BRACE, our DeskLodge chosen charity for this Christmas. BRACE are an awesome dementia research charity and do remarkable work.

To raise extra funds we held a coffee morning at DeskLodge House on the 9thDecember. There were yummy pastries for a £1 and BRACE were selling beautiful Christmas cards. We’ll also have charity buckets onsite throughout December, and for every £1 raised, DeskLodge will match it! Watch out for social posts nearer the time!

In the meantime, here’s Mark Poarch, BRACE’s Chief Executive to tell us a little more about what they do.

Tell us who BRACE are and what BRACE do?

BRACE is a dementia research charity, founded in Bristol in 1987.We are working towards a world free from dementia and the fear of dementia. To achieve this, we raise money and fund medical science as it seeks to understand the causes of dementia, achieve earlier diagnosis and develop treatments. We also inform the public about all things dementia, giving people the opportunity to reduce their level of risk or plan better for care, for example.

What about yourself Mark, how long have you been with BRACE and how did you get involved?

I joined in November 2008, keen to make a difference in the fight against dementia.  Around that time, dementia was beginning to impose itself on my world – an uncle had died of Alzheimer’s the year before and I have lost friends to other forms of dementia since. It’s a cruel condition that affects all of us eventually, whether because we develop it or because someone close to us does.

What's been the standout accomplishment in 2021 that BRACE has achieved?

On World Alzheimer’s Day, 21st September, we announced the world’s first early Alzheimer’s test -diagnosing Alzheimer’s 5 –10 years earlier than is currently possible. The EEG test was developed and tested thanks to BRACE funding a project led by Dr George Stothart at the University of Bath. Many people say they “wouldn’t want to know if they were developing Alzheimer’s”, which is a personal choice. However, diagnosing Alzheimer’s years earlier offers researchers the chance to develop medicines to slow down and stop the damage Alzheimer’s causes the brain. There are currently no medicines that can slow or stop Alzheimer’s and it is an exciting development that takes us all one step closer to a dementia cure.

Can you share some insight into how the money raised by BRACE is used?

We typically fund pilot projects and PhD studentships. A pilot project is one that establishes proof of principle and is the essential first step in any line of research; the project by Dr Stothart (mentioned above) is good example. The media love to report breakthroughs and new drugs, but none of this would ever happen without someone doing the initial research. Studentships are also really important – a new line of enquiry is pursued under the supervision of an expert senior scientist and, at the same time, a doctoral student is being trained to become one of the next generation of leading scientists. We also fund core resources, including the South West Dementia Brain Bank (which provides donated brain tissue for research projects) and a research nurse at the Bristol Brain Centre.

What are BRACE’s plans for 2022 and beyond?

To grow! To reach more people! We have seen in the rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines what medical science can achieve when it is given the resources. We want to play a big role in providing the resources for dementia research and thereby speed up research. Dementia is more complicated than COVID-19 but it is still a range of illnesses with many causes which we are gradually coming to understand; understanding  the causes is a foundation for a cure.

How can people reading this blog hear more about BRACE and offer support?

There is a lot of information on our website and you can sign up for our regular email updates at the foot of any page. If you want to support our work by giving either money or time, there are many ways of doing so. We also welcome support from businesses, especially those that adopt a charity for the year or a special event; DeskLodge have given us a great Christmas present by choosing us as their seasonal charity!

Do you have a fun fact about BRACE you can share?

The human brain has 86 billion brain cells. We take the scientists’ word for it, as we haven’t had time to check their counting yet.

BRACE do the kind of work that makes you feel utterly humble and grateful.  So please, if you can, pop in for a coffee and pastry, pop a quid or two into our charity buckets, or send them a donation this Christmas to help them and their work;