World leading expertise in dementia with Lewy bodies at local NHS Trust

Professor John O'Brien

A global review has named Professor John O'Brien, as the world's leading expert on dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB).

Out of 2,000 peer reviewed papers published since 2008 worldwide, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) doctor and researcher, John, wrote or contributed to 86 papers on the condition.

England is the world’s top performing region in terms of expertise in dementia with Lewy bodies, according to the new data analysis published by Expertscape – a website which objectively ranks people and institutions by their expertise across more than 26,000 biomedical topics. The data also shows that worldwide, Cambridge is one of the top five cities contributing most into this disease area, topped by London and followed by Newcastle in second place.

Professor O’Brien delivers research with care as an honorary consultant old age psychiatrist at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust and Professor of Old Age Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge. He is the National Specialty Lead for Dementias at the National Institute for Health Research.

John said: “Obviously I am delighted by this news, which reflects the hard work of study teams and collaborators in Newcastle and Cambridge with whom I have had the pleasure of working with over the last 10 years. The fact that my colleagues Clive Ballard (Exeter) and Dag Aarsland (King’s College London) also make up the top three, with England listed top country worldwide, is a testament to the real excellence of Lewy body dementia research here in the UK.

"We will continue to build on this, and I am very grateful to all our funders, including NIHR who funded the recent DIAMOND-Lewy Programme, and to the NIHR Clinical Research Network’s Dementias and Neurodegeneration specialty – who play a pivotal role in successfully delivering all our studies.”

Studies conducted by clinicians and researchers at CPFT, working closely with people living with dementia, have contributed to the knowledge base behind new care guidelines released by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) last year.

CPFT is a top performer in the East of England for recruitment to dementia studies. Recognising their contribution, NICE advises that all people with dementia should be provided with information on research studies they could participate in. Local residents interested in participating in dementia studies can contact the Trust’s Windsor Research Unit on 01223 219531

John's research interests include the application of imaging biomarkers in dementia and late-life depression and he has particular expertise in Lewy body and vascular dementias.

Over his career, he has published over 500 peer-reviewed scientific papers on these topics and is a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Emeritus Senior Investigator.

The NIHR supports research into all areas of dementias and neurodegenerative disease. In 2018/19, the NIHR’s Clinical Research Network supported the delivery of 24 clinical research studies on DLB – recruiting 5,793 patients, with the DIAMOND-Lewy study contributing significantly to the total recruitment.

Find out more about research in this NIHR specialty

View the full Expertscape listing online


·        Currently it is estimated that 850,000 people in the UK are living with dementia, and the only way to find new and better ways to treat and care for those affected by the condition is to do more research. But researchers rely on people finding out about suitable studies and volunteering to take part.

·        NICE recommends that health and care professionals should help people living with dementia and their carers find out about opportunities to take part in research, and empower them to make their own decisions about getting involved.

·        One way to do this is to provide information about Join Dementia Research, a UK-wide service that enables people with dementia and their carers to register their interest and matches volunteers with the most appropriate studies, with no obligation. Current research studies range from clinical trials of new treatments to surveys identifying what works in improving the quality of life of people with dementia and their carers.

Find out more and register today:


About Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) is a health and social care organisation, providing integrated community, mental health and learning disability services, across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and children’s community services in Peterborough.
We support around 100,000 people each year and employ more than 3,700 staff. Our largest bases are at the Cavell Centre, Peterborough, and Fulbourn Hospital, Cambridge, but our staff are based in over 90 locations. We are a University of Cambridge Teaching Trust and member of Cambridge University Health Partners, working together with the University of Cambridge Clinical School. Together with global, national and local partners we conduct high-quality and ground-breaking research into mental and physical health and support innovation to improve patient care.


A strategic partnership aiming to improve patient care, patient outcomes and population health through innovation and the integration of service delivery, health research and clinical education.

Cambridge University Health Partners (CUHP)