Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) will allocate $1.5 million to three expert teams in the country to study the causes of dementia. The projects are part of a collaborative research scheme between the NHMRC and the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) with funding aiming to improve understanding of the many potential causes of dementia and modifiable lifestyle risk and protective factors that may prevent or delay its onset.
The three collaborative projects announced will be led by Australian researchers who will work with their counterparts in Japan to investigate the causes of dementia.
Dr Chien-Hsiung (Alan) Yu from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health at the University of Melbourne will focus on tau protein build-up, which triggers neuron death in the brain and develop therapies to prevent this damaging protein cascade.
Dr Yijun Pan from the same institute will investigate accurate diagnosis, potential therapeutic targets and modifiable risk factors for patients living with vascular or frontotemporal dementia to improve quality of life.
Dr Quan Huynh from the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute will work with collaborators from Gunma University and Shinshu University to test the feasibility and effectiveness of an innovative model of care that will enable healthcare professionals to screen patients with cognitive impairment and heart failure, aiming to improve cognition and reduce the risk of dementia and cardiovascular events.
NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso AO commented, “Funding announced today will provide the opportunity for newly independent researchers to build international networks and develop long-term careers focusing on dementia research. Australia is a global leader in dementia research and these grants provide new opportunities for our newest and brightest scientists to collaborate with researchers in Japan on the shared challenge of dementia.”
Minister for Aged Care, Anika Wells, added, “Dementia has a significant impact on the quality of life for not only those living with the condition but their families and carers too. With dementia now the second leading cause of death in Australia, projects like these are critical. Investing in understanding the causes of dementia and the potential to delay its onset will benefit all Australians.”