Regional Health

Dementia research gets a $2.4 million boost


The Dementia Australia Research Foundation is allocating $2.4 million to fund 18 projects in its 2022 Grants Program, focusing on diverse areas of dementia research.

Dr Ashleigh Smith from the University of South Australia (UniSA) is one of the recipients of the Mid-Career Research Fellowship, worth $365,000. Her team aims to develop tailored dementia prevention strategies for rural and regional communities, where dementia rates are disproportionately high.

“We know there are 12 modifiable risk factors for dementia including smoking, diet, exercise and social isolation and we have collected good data on how these risk factors impact people living in Australian cities,” Dr Smith explained.

UniSA’s rural campuses will collaborate with communities in South Australia, including Mt Gambier, Whyalla and Port Lincoln, to design culturally sensitive dementia prevention strategies.

“People living in rural and regional communities don’t want city-based solutions. “By co-designing the toolkit with people living in rural and regional communities, we will ensure the toolkit is acceptable and aimed at extending healthy life and delaying dementia onset in Australians who live outside major cities,” Dr Smith emphasised.

Meanwhile, Dr Alby Elias from The University of Melbourne will lead a study investigating whether intermittent fasting can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The $75,000 Project Grant will support this research.

Intermittent fasting, known for its health benefits like improved blood vessel health and reduced inflammation, has shown promise in animal studies for clearing beta-amyloid proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

“Intermittent fasting also has a range of benefits for several health conditions, including obesity, arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure. But so far no human studies have been conducted looking at fasting and Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr Elias said.

Chair of the Dementia Australia Research Foundation, Professor Graeme Samuel AC, expressed excitement about the diverse range of projects funded this year. “With dementia affecting almost 50 million people worldwide, research into dementia is now more urgent than ever.”

The Dementia Australia Research Foundation extends gratitude to donors whose contributions have supported dementia research over the years. Since 2000, the Foundation has allocated almost $30 million to fund over 350 projects, driving innovation and progress in dementia research.

This article was also posted in the Third Sector.

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Ritchelle is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel, Australia’s premier resource of information for healthcare.

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