University of Sydney scholars win $5.7m for dementia research

20 October 2015

Ten University of Sydney scholars have been awarded a combined $5.7m in federal funding to tackle the impacts of dementia and find ways to prevent and cure the debilitating disease.

Research-driven interventions aiming to prevent dementia

University of Sydney scholars based at the Charles Perkins Centre, the Brain and Mind Centre, the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, the Kolling Institute of Medical Research, and Sydney School of Public Health have received prestigious Dementia Research Development Fellowships worth up to $625,000 each.

The fellowships, announced by Federal Minister for Health Sussan Ley and Minister for Education and Training Senator Simon Birmingham, have been awarded to 76 Australian researchers. The fellowships, totalling more than $43 million, are jointly funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Research Council.

Dementia includes a constellation of illnesses causing a progressive decline in a person's mental functioning but most commonly is due to Alzheimer's disease. It can affect memory, thinking, orientation, comprehension, calculation, learning capacity, language and judgment. Approximately 330,000 Australians are living with dementia, which is expected to affect more than 100 million people across the globe by 2050.

Dr Emily Reeve, a postdoctoral researcher at the Kolling Institute, was awarded $623,000 to establish new evidence-based de-prescribing guidelines for people with dementia. People with dementia are at risk of drug-related complications because they have diminishing cognitive function and lowered decision-making autonomy. The four-year research project will establish guidelines for doctors, pharmacists and patients/carers.

Dr Loren Mowszowski, a neuropsychologist at the Brain and Mind Centre, will receive $544,000 to develop cognitive interventions for older people who are at risk of dementia due to early-stage neurodegenerative disease. Scholars at the Brain and Mind Centre won six of the ten fellowships awarded to University of Sydney researchers.

This short video reveals how the Brain and Mind Centre is leading generational change for disorders of the brain and mind.

Dr Angela D’Rozario at the Woolcock’s Sleep Research Group was awarded $525,000 to assess whether improving sleep can improve mental functioning among people who have mild cognitive impairment, which is a risk factor for dementia.

Fast facts – dementia

  • More than 330,000 Australians are living with dementia.
  • More than 1700 new cases of dementia are diagnosed in Australia weekly.
  • Without effective prevention or a cure, more than a million Australians will be living with dementia by 2050.
  • Caring for dementia patients is overwhelming for caregivers. The stresses include physical, emotional and economic pressures. Caregivers require support from health, social, financial and legal systems.
  • Dementia will become the third greatest source of health and residential aged care spending within two decades.

Dan Gaffney

Media & PR Adviser (Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy)
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