Research

Major funding boost advancing dementia epidemiology worldwide

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The Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) at UNSW, spearheading the Cohort Studies of Memory in an International Consortium (COSMIC), secures a $7.3 million grant over five years from the U.S. National Institutes of Health. This funding will have a major impact on dementia research, treatment and management not only in Australia but also on the global stage.

Dementia, often termed the looming pandemic affecting 50 million families globally and causing a $1.3 trillion economic impact in 2020, is now a focal point for CHeBA’s groundbreaking work.

Professor Perminder Sachdev, Co-Director of CHeBA, emphasises the strategic alignment of their goals with the World Health Assembly’s Global Action Plan on dementia.

“This funding will allow us to harness the power of our unique consortium, to map globally the 12 modifiable risk factors of dementia identified by the 2020 Lancet Commission, document the diverse epidemiology of dementia internationally, and to better understand ethnic differences in the genetics and biomarkers for dementia,” Prof. Sachdev said.

Acting Dean of UNSW Medicine & Health, Professor Martin Gallagher, underscores the pivotal role CHeBA plays on the international stage and anticipates a transformative impact on dementia study and treatment.

The grant from the U.S. National Institute on Aging allows CHeBA to expand its research collaboration within COSMIC, targeting novel risk and resilience factors such as environmental, economic, and social elements. Over the next five years, the team will document cognitive impairment and dementia incidence, develop risk models, and map factors worldwide. Emphasising diversity, the initiative aims to create population-specific risk indices for dementia prevention.

The collaborative effort involves renowned entities like the Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative, Dementias Platform UK, Alzheimer’s Disease Data Initiative, Global Brain Health Institute, and Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation. The funding will also facilitate the exploration of cerebrovascular disease, genetic markers in non-European populations and the potential of plasma biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease.

COSMIC, with 54 member studies from 39 nations, is creating a global epidemiology of dementia. Professor Sachdev envisions a lasting impact on the epidemiology of cognitive ageing and dementia with this substantial funding boost.

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