National funding to fight dementia

Researchers at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research have received a portion of Federal Government funding to tackle the impacts of dementia – the second-leading cause of death in Australia behind heart disease.

Sarah Rea
Dr Sarah Rea

A total of 76 fellowships will share $43 million in National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and Australian Research Council funding.

The number of Australians with dementia is predicted to grow to more than one million people in the next 40 years. There are around 342,000 Australians living with dementia with more than 1,800 new cases of dementia each week.

At the Perkins a fellowship was awarded to Dr Sarah Rea, from the laboratory of Molecular Medicine and Ageing – Molecular Endocrinology – Cellular Regulation.

Two other recipients were Dr Kate Smith and Dr Andrew Ford, who are with a centre of the WA Centre for Health & Ageing, or WACHA.

Dr Sarah Rea’s project will focus on how gene mutations in self-degrading cell receptors cause dementia. Research will highlight the exact pathways affected by mutations in each of the receptors, providing new insights into common and underlying disease mechanisms that will lead to the development of future treatments.

With dementia five times more prevalent in Aboriginal Australians than non-Aboriginals, Dr Kate Smith’s project aims to help develop a better quality of life for sufferers, as well as identifying factors associated with a better quality of life.

Dr Andrew Ford will investigate factors contributing to the development of depression in adults with Alzheimer’s disease and the effect of a simple, safe and cost-effective treatment – cognitive bias modification (CBM) – in preventing the development of depression. His research will also examine the effect of CBM on the quality of life of those with Alzheimer’s disease.

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