Dag Aarsland is Professor and Head of Department of Old Age Psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, and Consultant psychiatrist at the Mental Health for Older Adults, South London & Maudsley NHS Health Trust, where he leads the Parkinson Spectrum Memory Clinic.
His research has involved a wide variety of topics within psychiatry and neuropsychiatry of older adults, with a focus on dementia. A main focus has been on dementia and neuropsychiatric problems in people with Parkinson’s disease, and related to this also dementia with Lewy bodies. He has been actively involved in the international Task Forces developing the diagnostic criteria for dementia and mild cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies. A current topic of interest is to study the underlying mechanisms of the association between depression and cognitive impairment in the elderly, with the aim of identifying new treatment targets.
After completing his medical degree at the Universities in Bochum, Germany and Oslo, Norway, he finished his training as a specialist psychiatrist and started a career in geriatric psychiatry. He founded and still lead the Section of geriatric psychiatry and the Centre for Age-Related Disease at Stavanger University Hospital, which is now a nationally acclaimed centre of clinical and academic geriatric psychiatry, covering the full spectrum of psychiatric conditions in elderly people within a large psychiatric department. After becoming specialist in psychiatry, he completed his PhD and appointed associate Professor and later Professor of Old Age Psychiatry at the University in Bergen, Norway. Later he became professor at te University of Oslo, before becoming appointed as Professor of Clinical dementia research at the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centre at the prestigious Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. After working in Sweden for five years he moved to his current post in London.
He developed and lead the European Consortium for DLB, which includes more than 25 centres across 13 European countries, with a common database of more than 1200 DLB patients, by far the largest DLB sample in the world. Together with key colleagues at KCL and SLAM I have developed a “Parkinson-spectrum Memory Clinic” focusing on PD and DLB patients. A key current research aim is to develop biomarker research focusing on cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), and to increase the portfolio of clinical trials, both clinician-lead and industry-lead studies. He played a central role in the study and subsequent paper that lead to the licensing of rivastigmine for Parkinsonian dementia. Professor Aarsland has published more than 400 scientific papers and numerous books and book chapters, and served as an invited speaker at a number of psychiatric and neurological international scientific conferences.
Currently he is involved in developing new drug-targets and therapeutic research, in particular first-in man and Phase 2 studies. Throughout his career he has pursued academic collaborative work and thus have been, and continues to be, involved in a number of international research networks which he has initiated and continues to provide leadership for.