Employed by Queen’s University Belfast
Mentors: Professor Jayne Woodside with Dr Bernadette McGuinness and Professor Kristine Yaffe
Dr Claire McEvoy worked as a clinical dietitian before moving to a research post in the Centre for Public Health, Queen’s University Belfast. She holds an MPhil and gained her PhD at Queen’s University Belfast in 2012 for a thesis on fruit, vegetable and dietary patterns in relation to vascular and eye health. Claire has an interest in the application of mixed methodology to novel approaches to encourage and sustain dietary behaviour change for disease prevention and has managed two clinical trials to date: the Fruit, Vegetable and Insulin Resistance Study (FIRST) and the Trial to Encourage Adoption and Maintenance of a Mediterranean Diet (TEAM-MED). She has published nine (first-author) peer reviewed journal articles and five book chapters, and has presented her work at national and international conferences.
As a Beeson-sponsored CARDI Fellow, Claire will investigate the Mediterranean diet (MD) and cognitive decline – strengthening the evidence base and encouraging behaviour change. Her research will seek to determine the association between MD at baseline and cognitive decline and dementia risk over time in several prospective cohort studies; this will include techniques such as neuro-imaging. She will also further develop educational materials designed for participants with mild cognitive impairment to encourage dietary change towards an MD. Her Fellowship will include a year-long study visit to the prestigious Kristine Yaffe Lab at the University of California, San Francisco, where she will undertake training in nutritional epidemiology and cognitive assessment, as well as contributing to the work of the lab.
It has been estimated that up to a half of dementia cases may result from potentially modifiable risk factors. Targeting these factors, including diet, could lead to a significant reduction in dementia cases. This research aims to increase our knowledge on how diet may contribute to cognitive health and to inform effective future strategies to prevent and treat cognitive disorders in older adults.