Public Engagement Funding Award for van Aalten lab Care to Share project

Published on 4 June 2020

The van Aalten lab has been awarded ScotPEN Wellcome Engagement Award to run an innovative project focused on the role of science, lifestyle and one’s social circle in managing neurodegenerative diseases (NDs).

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The Care to Share project aims to equip participants with practical strategies and networks important in dealing with NDs.

The Care to Share project will utilise games to:

  1. provide an insight into the role of strategic institutions such as hospitals, research centres and charities in mitigating rising ND incidence
  2. help the public explore the importance of non-medical interventions including lifestyle and your social circle that support ND management.

The project has been conceived by Michaela Omekova, a PhD student from the van Aalten lab who will also manage the project delivery. “I am delighted and excited that the Care to Share project has been funded! I believe that this novel approach will help us bridge the gap between the public, the scientists and the professionals who routinely deal with patients with neurodegenerative diseases in an informal and engaging way. It will be a stimulating learning experience for us researchers as well as for all the participants. We hope the Care to Share project will benefit the wider community – equipping participants with knowledge and useful networks that they can share or use if needed as well as bringing existing patients and cares Care Packages.”

Each game session will be complemented by discussions between public and professionals to share expertise, knowledge and ideas. During discussions, science-backed strategies will mix with personal and professional experience. This will create a unique environment for in-depth, people-oriented interdisciplinary exchange of practical information, allowing sharing of ideas and expertise, and creating helpful networks. Furthermore, the participating public and professionals will collaborate on “Care package” creation, producing packages of items that may prove life-changing for ND patients and their carers, motivating participants to apply the acquired information and disseminate it.

Due to current circumstances, the project will be delivered online and supported by a website. 


About ScotPEN Wellcome Engagement Award (SWEA)

ScotPEN was awarded funding of £500,000 from Wellcome to initiate a new 18 month pilot collaboration to support Wellcome grant holders in Scotland to engage the public with their research.

The funding pilot is designed to improve the quality and quantity of successful research engagement projects and increase opportunities for institutional collaborations. The SWEA replaces Wellcome’s Research Enrichment for Public Engagement scheme for those based in Scottish universities and research institutes.

The SWEA has been extended for a further year and announcements will be made in due course for the next funding call. Anyone who is in receipt of Wellcome funding who is interested in applying, please email the SLS Public Engagement team at