Alzheimer's disease concept, Elderly woman holding brain symbol of missing jigsaw puzzle.
The University of Plymouth is playing a pivotal role in an international network that aims to train future generations of dementia researchers.
The CombiDiag Doctoral Network has appointed 10 international doctoral students to develop pioneering techniques, based on the detection of peripheral biomarkers and use of artificial intelligence (AI), for diagnosis of early stage Alzheimer’s disease.
Initially, they are carrying out an integrated study to identify biomarkers of the condition, including body fluid markers from blood, urine and saliva, and digital markers from speech, motor functions and sleep.
Analysing the data generated through this work will enable the researchers to develop an AI-data-driven diagnostic protocol for Alzheimer’s, that will in turn deliver the potential for improved drug discoveries, disease-modifying treatments, preventive strategies and care provision.
The CombiDiag Doctoral Network, supported by a grant of €2.1million from the European Union, brings together nine academic and eight other institutions across Europe, USA, Canada, and China.
Professor Genhua Pan, from the School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics, was the original coordinator of the CombiDiag DN proposal. However, because of changes to EU funding protocols the role has since been taken by Professor Stefan Teipel at the University Medicine Rostock, who was one of the partners in the consortium.
The University of Plymouth remains a partner in the consortium being supported by a grant of £265,000 through the Horizon Europe Guarantee initiative.
Plymouth is also hosting one of the doctoral students, Miss Sophia Nazir, and they are working towards the development of the body-fluid based assays which will be used by the research network.

The CombiDiag project aims to develop an AI-data-driven peripheral biomarker based combinatorial diagnostic protocol for early stages of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a major form of dementia. It will also train a new generation of fellows who will be the future research leaders. Its interdisciplinary and international consortium synergises leading academic and industrial experts worldwide to build a research and training platform for a new generation of fellows to take early AD diagnostic research to a new level.

Genhua PanGenhua Pan
Professor of Nanomaterials and Devices

The doctoral researchers working as part of the CombiDiag network will receive a training program consisting of local and network-wide courses, events and summer schools and take part in an intensive exchange with the consortium partners.
Professor Stefan Teipel, an Alzheimer's researcher at the Rostock University Medical Centre, is leading the CombiDiag network. He said:
“Dementia is a serious disease of old age and a challenge for our society. That is why it is included in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the EU's Horizon Europe program. CombiDiag brings together world-leading academic and industrial experts to develop the doctoral students' scientific skills as well as their creative and economic thinking.”

School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics

Our disciplines provide a vibrant inter-disciplinary and collaborative environment dedicated towards producing graduates with the necessary applied knowledge and skills to meet demands of employers today and tomorrow.
Advanced Engineering Design