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Alzheimer’s disease is the most important disorder underlying dementia. The epidemic of dementia not only has a major impact on patients, their relatives and caretakers but also on the health care system of the UK and elsewhere. The inaugural lecture will discuss the advances in our understanding of the genetic and epidemiologic determinants of Alzheimer’s disease and the interactions between these two fields. The lecture will address the opportunities and challenges in translating our current knowledge into successful preventive interventions. These include the discovery and validation of blood-based biomarkers using big data analysis and the discovery of new modifiable determinants such as the gut microbiome.