The faces behind a new wave of dementia research

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Last month we announced the inaugural recipients of the ‘Race Against Dementia – Dementia Australia Research Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowship’ programme.

Dr Adekunle Bademosi from The University of Queensland and Dr Andrew McKinnon from The University of Sydney are both early-career researchers, working on exciting projects in the field of dementia research.

Dr Bademosi became interested in dementia research after experiencing the condition firsthand in his family.

“I saw the emotional and financial struggles as well as the hopeless feeling that my family experienced after my grandmother’s dementia diagnosis. Even then, I searched for ways to help her and to stop this disease from taking away my grandma’s photographic memory,” he said.

“While studying Human Physiology at the University of Nigeria, I became aware of the appalling lack of good therapeutics for the diverse dementias, such as frontotemporal dementia.”

This led Dr Bademosi to the Queensland Brain Institute at the University of Queensland, where he obtained his Master’s and Doctorate degrees.

Dr Bademosi’s research will explore how and why proteins clump in the brains of people living with frontotemporal dementia, using advanced imaging tools that have resolutions up to ten million times that of a standard digital camera. He hopes to discover where the protein clumping begins, how the clumps overwhelm the brain’s waste-disposal system and help to identify potential drugs that can halt or reverse the clumping of the proteins.

He hopes this project will lead to the development of an early diagnostic tool to detect frontotemporal dementia before a person develops any symptoms of the disease.

Dr McKinnon is a research fellow and clinical neuropsychologist who became interested in dementia research due to the limited effectiveness of existing interventions and lack of curative treatments for the condition.

“Research has indicated that up to 40 per cent of all dementia cases may be preventable through addressing modifiable risk factors, many of which begin accumulating from mid-life,” he said.

Dr McKinnon’s research will look at sleep problems in older adults with early dementia or those at risk for dementia. This will include developing tools that provide individualised risk reports to clinicians to help guide strategies for dementia management and prevention for their patients.

“The earlier we can identify those at risk of future significant cognitive decline, and establish the most important modifiable risk factors, the earlier we can look to design targeted interventions for each individual to manage their risk profile and minimise the chance of developing dementia in the future.” 

As part of the ‘Race Against Dementia – Dementia Australia Research Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowship’ programme, Dr Bademosi and Dr McKinnon will each receive an award valued at $405,000 AUD in total, over three years, which will cover salary and project expenses.

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