Professor Osvaldo Almeida MD, PhD, FRANZCP, FFPOA


Biography

Osvaldo P. Almeida completed his undergraduate medical training at the University of São Paulo in Brazil, and his research postgraduate training at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, UK, being awarded his PhD in 1993. He has been the Chair of Geriatric Psychiatry of the University of Western Australia since 2001, and Director of Research of the Western Australian Centre for Health & Ageing since 2008.

He has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the beyondblue Inspiration Award, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Senior Research Award, and the GESB Award for Improved Outcomes in Seniors’ Mental Health.

Research Overview

Osvaldo P. Almeida runs a research program designed to establish and modify risk factors for cognitive decline and depression in later life. The activities include the running of observational studies and randomised controlled trials that aim to test new approaches to improving the mental health outcomes of older people.

Current Research Projects

  • The Health In Men Study (HIMS) – NHMRC project grant The data collection for HIMS started in 1996 with the recruitment of 40,000 men aged 65 to 85 years. Over 12,000 of these participants underwent screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm and provided detailed sociodemographic and clinical data. In addition, a subgroup provided blood samples and completed three additional waves of assessments in 2001-4, 2008-9 and 2013-14.  HIMS is one of the richest and most productive cohort studies of older people ever assembled in Australia. At the time of writing, over 130 original peer-reviewed papers had already been published on topics ranging from genetic and environmental pathways to cardiovascular events and depression to health service use. Healthy ageing is now a key focus of data collection and analyses, as we seek to clarify how genetic and environmental factors interact to determine survival free of clinically significant depression and cognitive or functional impairments.
  • The Assessment oF FluoxetINe In sTroke recoverY (AFFINITY) trial – NHMRC project grant AFFINITY is a randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled trial that aims to clarify if 6 months treatment with fluoxetine is safe and improves the functional recovery of people who survive a stroke for at least two weeks. The trial started in 2014 and recruitment is ongoing. INDIvidual GOal setting to overcome sedentary lifestyle (INDIGO trial) – NHMRC project grant In a previous RCT, Osvaldo P. Almeida and colleagues have shown that physical activity decreases the rate of cognitive decline among older people with mild cognitive impairment (a dementia high risk group). Thus, overcoming a sedentary lifestyle is critical to reducing the burden caused by dementia as the Australian population ages. This trial is testing various models of mentoring designed to increase physical activity in later life. Data collection for this project is ongoing.
  • Nefiracetam Trial to treat Poststroke Apathy – NHMRC project grant Apathy is a common complication of stroke that interferes with rehabilitation and hinders the functional recovery of survivors. No therapies have proven successful in the management of poststroke apathy. Nefiracetam is a novel cyclic gama aminobutyric acid compound that enhances aminergic, glutamatergic and cholinergic neurotransmission. Preliminary results have been promising, and data collection is ongoing. Testosterone, estradiol and implications for the health of ageing men – NHMRC project grant This project makes use of HIMS and aims to clarify whether sex hormones are likely to be causally associated with frailty, depression, cognitive impairment and functional decline in later life. This is important, as the safe correction of hormonal imbalances is possible in this ageing population. Prospective Imaging Study of Ageing: genes, brain and behaviour (PISA) PISA is a longitudinal study of healthy Australians in midlife who are at high risk of dementia. The aim of the program is to identify early markers of risk that may be amenable to change through behavioural and biological interventions.
  • Non-NHMRC funded trials In addition to the studies outlined above, OPA is currently leading two other trials. One of them aims to determine if the systematic management of relevant risk factors for depression decreases the onset of a major depressive episode among women undergoing the menopausal transition. The design of this trial has evolved from the results of OPA’s previous studies with peri- and postmenopausal women as well as with the use of risk tables for depression. The other trial is testing a novel promising approach to treating depression in people with dementia. Data collection for both studies is ongoing. OPA is also currently contributing to the running of a NIH funded program designed to enhance research capacity in Latin America as well as a MRC/FAPESP funded project to improve the management of depression in socioeconomically deprived areas.
  • Peer-reviewed publications

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