PRESS RELEASE: Frankl awarded Wellcome Trust open research grant

Funding will support development of a blockchain-enabled app for dementia assessment


The UK’s Wellcome Trust has awarded Australian startup Frankl Open Science a grant to develop a blockchain-enabled application that will improve dementia diagnosis.

Wellcome Trust London Office

The grant comes from Wellcome’s Open Research Fund, which was set up to test innovative new ways of making health research open, accessible and reusable. Eligible groups can receive up to £50,000 to pilot new approaches to open science. Competition was high this year, with Frankl one of 96 research teams who submitted applications.

Frankl’s dementia app will combine a new cognitive test with technical features designed to facilitate and incentivise data sharing. Features include integrated data management, a cryptocurrency micropayment that can be refunded when data are shared, and blockchain metadata that will establish the provenance of data, enable verification and support findability.

Cognitive scientist and Frankl founder Dr Jon Brock believes the open science components his team is developing will be applicable not just to dementia, but to a wide range of research.

“We’re very grateful to receive this support from the Wellcome Trust,” says Brock. “It’s a tribute to the broad application of what we’re doing. This app will not only help to speed up progress in dementia research, but is designed to serve as a model for other forms of clinical assessment and other areas of science.

“We’re developing infrastructure that can support and incentivise data sharing in any research environment.”

Brock founded Frankl Open Science in January this year alongside blockchain expert Peter Godbolt. The pair identified a need for more flexible assessments that would accelerate research and enhance outcomes for people with neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative conditions.

In developing their dementia assessment app, Frankl is working with Macquarie University’s Professor Greg Savage, a neuropsychologist based at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders. Savage designed the new test, which will assess memory abilities in patients with diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease dementia and other forms of dementia, people with Mild Cognitive Impairment (who have higher risk of developing dementia), and cognitively normal elderly people with subjective memory concerns.

Frankl is currently running a presale of a dedicated cryptocurrency, FRNKL, to operate on its network. The currency will be released as an ERC20 token on the Ethereum blockchain.

For more information, visit frankl.io and the Frankl feed.