Carol Brayne

Professor Carol Brayne

Dementia Research Programme | academic

Director of Cambridge Public Health
University of Cambridge
The Old Schools Trinity Lane Cambridge

Professor Carol Brayne is a medically qualified epidemiologist and public health academic. She has pioneered the study of dementia in population.

Carol graduated in medicine from the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine (University of London) and went on to train in general medicine. After gaining membership of the Royal College of Physicians she worked as a junior doctor at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. With a Training Fellowship from the Medical Research Council, she studied epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Her higher degree (MD) focused on ageing and dementia (University of London).

Since the mid-80s Carol’s principal area of research has been longitudinal studies of the health of older people, with a focus on the brain, from a public health perspective. This included pioneering work bringing biology to populations including the creation of brain banks for medical research from population studies.

After joining the University of Cambridge, Carol became lead principal investigator in the MRC CFAS study. A longitudinal multicentre study, it has examined cognitive function and health in older people since the late 80s. Its results have informed national policy and now underpin our wider understanding of dementia: showing it can occur without the expected changes in brain pathology and that such changes, when they do occur, do not invariably lead to dementia. And that, age for age, dementia is less common than it was 30 years ago.

Alongside her Directorship of Cambridge Public Health, Carol holds the position of Faculty of Public Health, Academic & Research Committee Chair, Royal College of Physicians’ Special Advisor, NIHR Senior Investigator, SPHR member PI, CLAHRC theme lead and co-chair of the Alzheimer’s Society Research Strategy Council.

She also leads The Public Health of Ageing Research Unit, an involved team of specialised dementia researchers whose work includes specific risk reduction trials, studies of ageing and technology, age-friendly cities, plus the impact of ageing and dementia in the populations of low and middle-income countries.

A fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, Carol was listed among the highest cited scholars in the world across all disciplines in 2018 and awarded a CBE for services to public health medicine in the Queen’s 2017 Honours.