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Creating connections: developing an online space for cross-regional mentorship and network building in the dementia research field

Fullerton, Josie; Bettencourt, Conceicao; Daniels, Michael; Mclean, Fiona; Simpson, Susan; Smith, Adam; Woodling, Nathan; Kerr, Fiona


Josie Fullerton

Conceicao Bettencourt

Michael Daniels

Fiona Mclean

Susan Simpson

Adam Smith

Nathan Woodling


Effective development and retention of talented early-career researchers (ECRs) is essential to the continued success of biomedical science research fields. To this end, formal mentorship programmes (where researchers are paired with one or more mentors beyond their direct manager) have proven to be successful in providing support and expanding career development opportunities. However, many programmes are limited to pools of mentors and mentees within one institute or geographical area, highlighting that cross-regional connections may be a missed opportunity in many mentorship schemes.
Here, we aimed to address this limitation through our pilot cross-regional mentorship scheme, creating reciprocal mentor-mentee pairings between two pre-established networks of Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK) Network-associated researchers. We carefully created 21 mentor-mentee pairings between the Scotland and University College London (UCL) networks in 2021, with surveys conducted to assess mentor/mentee satisfaction with the programme.
Participants reported very high satisfaction with the nature of the pairings and the mentors’ contribution to the career development of mentees; a majority also reported that the mentorship scheme increased their connections outside of their home network. Our assessment of this pilot programme is that it supports the utility of cross-regional mentorship schemes for ECR development. At the same time, we highlight the limitations of our programme and recommend areas for improvement in future programmes, including greater consideration of support for minoritized groups and the need for additional training for mentors.
In conclusion, our pilot scheme generated successful and novel mentor-mentee pairings across pre-existing networks; both of which reported high satisfaction with pairings, ECR career and personal development, and the formation of new cross-network connections. This pilot may serve as a model for other networks of biomedical researchers, where existing networks within medical research charities can act as a scaffold to build new cross-regional career development opportunities for researchers.


Fullerton, J., Bettencourt, C., Daniels, M., Mclean, F., Simpson, S., Smith, A., …Kerr, F. (2022). Creating connections: developing an online space for cross-regional mentorship and network building in the dementia research field. AMRC Open Research, 4, Article 22.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Sep 27, 2022
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Oct 12, 2022
Journal AMRC Open Research
Print ISSN 2517-6900
Publisher Taylor and Francis
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Volume 4
Article Number 22
Keywords mentoring, mentorship, early career researchers, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease
Public URL