Overseas opportunities…PPA in Chicago

chicago pics

I was recently asked by someone whether it is worth the trouble to apply for an NIHR doctoral research fellowship. My answer was emphatically: YES!  I have been even more grateful than ever recently for my NIHR doctoral research fellowship funding. I was just recently reflecting on this as I boarded a flight from London to Chicago 3 days ago. My funding for my fellowship included a 2 week observership at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center (CNADC) at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. And here I am in Chicago.

I arrived in Chicago on Sunday evening and started at the CNADC on Monday morning first thing. This is also my first time in America and my first experiences have been exciting. Not only is CNADC a brilliant melting pot of multidisciplinary minds all interested in PPA, but everybody is so friendly and interested in my skills and experience (and my accent). CNADC are an interdisciplinary center focusing on research across many areas but with a special focus on PPA and superaging (adults above the age of 85 years who demonstrate no cognitive decline at all- exactly what we would all love to be). There are biologists, neuroscientists, neuropsychologists, neurologists, social workers, speech and language pathologists and more all working together (see their website link below):


People with PPA travel from all over America to participate in research at the CNADC. My first day included a tour of the amazing university and hospital site in the center of Chicago. Viewing the beautiful suite where patients are seen (the suite was designed by service users). The hospital here is amazing, I would definitely recommend it to friends and family. Not least for the amazing cafes and restaurants in the hospital building. I also chatted at length with neuropsychologists about the tests and measures they do with their participants.

I anticipate an enjoyable and productive visit here in Chicago at the CNADC. I am looking forward to hearing more about their communication research project “Communication Bridge” and making links with other like-minded researchers.

If anybody asks me whether to go for an NIHR doctoral research fellowship I would highly recommend it. The fellowship is exciting and affords so many amazing opportunities I would never have previously anticipated.

The results are in- thank you! Now to the analysis….


I do love setting myself a target and hitting it, I love ticking boxes off my weekly to do lists (yes! I love crossing through each box in the most meticulous manner), I love achieving all my new years resolutions. These things give me a great sense of getting things done! I felt the same sense of deep satisfaction when I ticked off one of the first big stages of my PhD this week.


On Thursday this week I closed my survey. I had sent out a survey to as many SLTs as I could possibly reach over the last 8 weeks. I use twitter, my blog, emails, clinical networks, academic networks, friends and acquaintances. I tried to reach as many corners of the UK as possible to ask SLTs what they do with people with PPA in their clinical practice. I wanted to know about referral patterns and referral reasons, assessment and therapy tools and what SLTs feel would work in the ideal situation.


I set myself a small target. SLTs are an infamously small professional group, spread thinly often working across many areas. NHS employees have less and less time to do anything aside from deliver services to patients. And yet I had an overwhelming response. It has been fantastic. I am so grateful for the volume of responses and the support in getting those responses. SLTs seen to feel passionately about this area of practice at the moment. So thank you to everyone who has supported my survey, and who has taken time to disseminate it and complete it. Your time is really valued!


So, what now? Now I plan to analyse the data. As previously mentioned I am presenting my initial results at the forthcoming “Making Mental Matter: Innovative speech and language therapy in practice” conference on 20th April (see below). I am planning to write up a journal article (my first one- ah) and present at other conferences later this year. More boxes to tick! Lovely.


Sign up below to St Andrews Northampton conference on the 20th April “Making Mental Matter: Innovative speech and language therapy in practice”. The UK’s first speech and language therapy in mental health conference:

Click to access 20%2004%202016%20conference%20flyer%20FINAL.pdf