Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Ageing – OPTIMA

OPTIMA is a large resource of data, imaging and biological samples collected from participants in several cohorts, including those experiencing cognitive decline who have been followed up extensively for many years, a “normal” cohort who have similarly been studied longitudinally, and also those who participated in a study of B Vitamins in mild cognitive impairment, with the goal of progressing approaches to assessment, treatment and management of dementia.

OPTIMA’s research employs a range of methods including neuropsychological assessment – performance on cognitive tests relative to the general population, brain scans, blood samples and cerebrospinal fluid, physical examination, and histopathological information following brain donation. The donated brains are now part of the Brains for Dementia Research programme.

Resource Details

  • Established in 1988 by Professor David Smith and colleagues to recruit people experiencing cognitive decline due to dementia.
  • Collects donations and data from people with typical cognitive function for control comparisons.
  • Large sample of people and brains donated to explore the underlying pathology, N = 1,100.
  • Sample types such as bloods, cerebrospinal fluid, urine and saliva.
  • Associated clinical data and other important variables. 
  • Suitable volunteers also support a number of clinical studies and the Longitudinal Early Alzheimer’s Disease Cohort (LEAD Cohort).


OPTIMA’s data and biological samples are available, as part of the research resources of the University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, to external researchers however access can only be granted on a case-by-case basis. At present there are a number of ongoing collaborations which is a testament to the valuable work the team undertake. The resource is academically led by Gordon Wilcock, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Geratology, and operationally managed by Sharon Christie, Senior Research Nurse. For more information and to contact a member of the OPTIMA team visit the dedicated website.