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This year for International Women's Day we asked women from our organisation a few questions about their work in the dementia space and why the day is important to them. Professor Amy Brodtmann is a Dementia Australia Honorary Medical Advisor and has made an enormous contribution to dementia treatment, care and research both in Australia and overseas. This is what Professor Brodtmann had to say.
How did you become involved in dementia research?
I am a neurologist who trained in stroke neurology in Australia before doing my PhD in imaging and cognition. I completed my cognitive training in Chicago with Marsel Mesulam, a world leader in dementia research. I have been involved in dementia research since then, setting up my first clinic and my first dementia projects when I returned to Melbourne.
What has been a personal highlight throughout your many years of dementia advocacy and research work?
From my patients and their loved ones: the privilege of hearing people’s stories, and witnessing ordinary people deal with extraordinary situations. Dementia syndromes affect people in so many ways, and the sadness, warmth, empathy, sheer bewildered frustration and humour I see every day is humbling.
For my research: being able to finally answer some of the most perplexing questions in neurodegeneration today by tackling how vascular risk factors – diabetes, high blood pressure – affect the brain and cause degeneration, and how stroke can cause ongoing brain decline in some people, but not others.
What is your advice to other women looking to make a difference in this field?
Ignore the old white men who tell you that you can’t do it. Someone had to say it! We all bring a different perspective and this diversity is a strength. Differing opinions challenge orthodoxies and we live in a time in dementia research when everything needs to be challenged so we can make the breakthroughs required to diagnose, support, treat, and yes eventually, prevent dementia.3
Why is International Women’s Day important to you?
It’s a celebration of suffrage, of the advances made by the women who preceded me and allowed my work to be possible, and a reminder of the need to support all the present and emerging talented women who will change the landscape of this world. I’m the youngest of three sisters, and have three daughters of my own, so it’s a big day!
To read our other International Women's Day profiles click below: