A Grand Prix Postdoc

07 Jun 2023 | By Hayley Tomes
Sir Jackie Stewart OBE and Associate Professor Sam Nightingale, Motorsport Images
07 Jun 2023 | By Hayley Tomes

This is not your average postdoc! This is about building future leaders who will form part of a global vision to end Dementia.

Race Against Dementia (RAD, and they really are!) is an organization that raises and allocates funds to accelerate global research and development to find a prevention or treatment for dementia. They do this by financially backing the most talented early career researchers they can find (here is the list) and encouraging them to pursue innovative ideas. They also aim to instill a “Formula 1 attitude” – attention to detail and urgency, to accelerate the pace of development. Finally, they think globally, forming strong alliances with research centres of excellence to harness the power of collaboration in this fight to find a cure!

What does this have to do with Formula 1 you may ask?

RAD was founded by Sir Jackie Stewart OBE, a stalwart of Formula 1 who was crowned world champion three times and won a total of 27 Grand Prix. He was the leading driver of his era and is the oldest living Formula 1 winner. He has been knighted and awarded an Order of the British Empire, a rare achievement.

This is a cause close to his heart, as his beloved wife, Helen, was diagnosed with dementia in 2014. She now suffers greatly with the effects of this disease, which has had a detrimental effect on the whole Stewart family. We are all human beings, and we fight for what we care about and what an important care this is.

Sir Jackie Stewart and Lady Helen Stewart celebrating at the 1969 Dutch Grand Prix (left) and at the Italian Grand Prix in 2009, Monza, Italy (right).
Sir Jackie Stewart and Lady Helen Stewart celebrating at the 1969 Dutch Grand Prix (left) and at the Italian Grand Prix in 2009, Monza, Italy (right).

So, for the first time in Africa, Race Against Dementia have funded a postdoc position at the Neuroscience Institute. The fellow will work on a new cohort being established in Cape Town with generous support from the Donald Gordon Foundation. The study will examine people ageing with and without HIV to explore Alzheimer’s disease mechanisms of inflammation and infection. They will also help build an internationally recognized dementia research programme at the Neuroscience Institute.

The chosen postdoc will work within the departments of Neurology and Psychiatry under the supervision of Associate Professor Sam Nightingale. The post-doc will be a Race Against Dementia Associate Fellow, and as such will benefit from additional training in leadership and innovation. This includes attending an annual summer school at a Formula 1 race track in the UK and being connected to industry mentors in Formula 1, business and innovation. They will interact with other Race Against Dementia fellows around the world to collaborate and learn together.

Race Against Dementia fellowships are prestigious and highly competitive international awards. As such they are looking for an exceptional candidate with ambition to be a future leader in South African dementia research. This position would be most suited to someone with a PhD in neuroscience, but they are open to dynamic candidates from any relevant background.

The Fellowship is for one year initially, with annual renewal up to 5 years based on satisfactory progress. The fellow will receive a tax-free, competitive stipend, depending on experience and qualifications. The fellowship also includes a number of other perks, including a substantial travel budget and lab expenses up to R400k pa.

Find more information about the position and its requirements here.

Chequered Flag is up for the full application on 1 August 2023, so send an expression of interest asap in order to get those applications in!