Funds flow to help Australia’s brightest head into dementia research

Twenty of Australia’s best and brightest young scientists will share in $875,000 to conduct ground-breaking dementia research.

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Recipients from the Dementia Australia Dementia Research Foundation’s 2015 grants round have recently been announced and applications for Round 1 of the 2016 grants have just opened.

The Foundation’s Chair, Scientia Professor Henry Brodaty AO, said with dementia the second leading cause of death in Australia and no cause or cure for the condition yet available, the grants were vital to improving future outcomes for people living with the condition and their carers, family and friends.

“These enthusiastic early career researchers are ready, willing and now able to make a difference in the field of dementia research,” Professor Brodaty said.

“They are vital to solving the puzzle of this condition and unlocking better tools for diagnosis, treatments and ultimately a cure for dementia, but we must support the work they do and grant rounds like the latest from the Dementia Australia Dementia Research Foundation are essential in growing dementia research in Australia.”

There are more than 353,800 people currently living with dementia and without a major research breakthrough for new treatments, approximately 900,000 are likely to develop dementia by 2050.

For the 2015 grant round the Dementia Australia Dementia Research Foundation partnered with the Yulgilbar Foundation and the Dementia Collaborative Research Centres to increase the momentum of scientific research into the causes and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and extend the number of PhD scholarships offered.

Dr Arne Ittner from the University of New South Wales was awarded a $50,000 Dementia Australia Dementia Research Foundation – Yulgilbar Foundation Project Grant, and will use the funding to provide a detailed understanding of a new protective mechanism for Alzheimer’s disease, which may serve as a target for future drug development.

“In this project, we aim at understanding how the toxic effect of the amyloid substance that occurs in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease can be blocked by a novel factor that is present in brain cells,” Dr Ittner said.

“This novel inhibitory factor is called ‘MAP kinase’ and it has the ability to keep the damage caused by amyloid in check. We want to find out how it does that and whether we can increase this factor’s ability. With this knowledge – we hope – a new therapy may be devised.”

Four PhD scholars will be supported through the Dementia Australia Dementia Research Foundation’s partnership with the Dementia Collaborative Research Centres. 

Dementia Australia National President, Professor Graeme Samuel AC, said this welcomed support would build capacity in the dementia research community by encouraging talented graduates and emerging researchers to embark on a career in dementia.

The AADRF has opened applications for the 2016 Dementia Grants Program with a further $1.01 million available for new and early career dementia researchers.

There will be up to 13, $50,000, capacity building project grants for new and early career researchers on offer in 2016’s Round 1:

  • Five AADRF Project Grants (new and early career researchers in any area of dementia research)
  • One Plants Management Australia – Whetman Pinks Project Grant (new and early career researchers in any area of dementia research)
  • One Hazel Hawke Research Grant in Dementia Care (new and early career researchers in dementia care)
  • Six $50,000 or one $100,000 plus four $50,000 AADRF-Vic Project Grants (new and early career researchers in dementia in clinical or psychosocial areas)

Applications Close at 5pm (AEST) on Monday 23 May 2016, for more information please the AADRF’s information for applicants page and check the eligibility requirements

Round 2 of the 2016 Dementia Grants Program (PhD Scholarships) will open in September 2016 with more details to be announced closer to the date.