Paying tribute to a pioneer of dementia research in Australia

Thirty years ago, a passionate academic doctor had a vision… for dementia research in Australia to thrive.

Professor Henry BrodatyThat individual, Scientia Professor Henry Brodaty AO became the driving force behind what is today the Dementia Australia Dementia Research Foundation (AADRF).

After three decades at the helm of the AADRF, Professor Brodaty feels it is now time to pass the baton and retire as Chair of the Board of Directors.

The AADRF provides research funding for Australian researchers who are exploring the causes, care, prevention and treatment for dementia. The Foundation funds researchers across all stages of their careers, but maintains a particular focus on capacity building of new and early career researchers and students. All funding for the AADRF is donated by members of the public and by private and philanthropic organisations.

Professor Brodaty said back in 1984 the principles were simple, money raised for research should go to research. 

“Australia was too small scientifically to support state–based research, so we would just have one pool and we wanted to encourage new researchers to the field of dementia.

“The Dementia Research Foundation started very small and with a committee of one (me), meetings were short!” Professor Brodaty said.

Dementia Australia National President Professor Graeme Samuel AC said Professor Brodaty was the original pioneer of the AADRF, and has continued to be the consistent strength of the organisation.

“It is with sincere gratitude and respect we celebrate the role of Henry Brodaty - a dementia researcher stalwart - as AADRF Chair. Professor Brodaty will continue his association with AADRF as its Patron. In addition he has agreed to join Ita Buttrose AO, OBE in the important role of a National Ambassador for Dementia Australia. 

“Henry’s extraordinary level of commitment, foresight and passion for building research capacity and translating research into practice has played a significant role in the AADRF becoming a major player in the field of dementia research in Australia,” Professor Samuel said.

This year the AADRF has given $875,000 to twenty of Australia’s brightest young scientists to conduct ground-breaking dementia research. Professor Brodaty said young researchers hang out for the possibility of funding from the AADRF.

“I believe we have made a very important contribution to enhancing dementia research in Australia and many of our grantees have gone on to form their own teams and set up centres,” Professor Brodaty said.

As well as heading up the AADRF Professor Brodaty’s illustrious career also includes Scientia Professor of Ageing and Mental Health, University of New South Wales; Consultant Psychogeriatrician, Aged Care Psychiatry and Head of the Memory Disorders Clinic, Prince of Wales Hospital. He is the Director of the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre (Assessment and Better Care) and Co-Director of the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) at UNSW.

Professor Brodaty is immediate Past-President of International Psychogeriatric Association. He has served on several New South Wales and Commonwealth committees related to ageing and dementia. He is also the past chairman of Alzheimer's Disease International, representing over 85 national Alzheimer Associations and past president of Dementia Australia and Dementia Australia (NSW).

Publishing over 500 papers and book chapters, Professor Brodaty is on the editorial board of several journals and has been the recipient of a number of awards – just last month Professor Brodaty was honoured with the prestigious Ryman Prize for 2016, in recognition of his three decades of tireless work in dementia research.

Professor Brodaty's lifetime achievements were recognized with the award of Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2000. In 2013, his dedication to a lifetime of leadership, clinical excellence and research to improve the quality of life of people with dementia was recognised when he was honoured with the Lifetime Dementia Australia Award.