Skip to main content

Celebrating $31 million of impact and innovation in dementia research

Thursday, 18 April 2024Research news
Dementia Advocate Tara Quirke and her husband Jim

For the past 25 years, the Dementia Australia Research Foundation has supported Australia’s emerging researchers to explore, innovate and advance the field of dementia research.

The Foundation’s More than a Cure: 25 Years of Impact report highlights just some of the 380 game-changing research projects that have shared in $31 million funding during the past quarter of a century.

International research reach

Researcher Dr Rachel Buckley’s career was supercharged when she received Dementia Australia Research Foundation funding for a two-year Post-Doctoral Fellowship in 2014. 

Dr Buckley said the Fellowship was a huge step in her research career, which has ultimately led to her running her own laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard University’s largest teaching hospital. 

It’s where Dr Buckley is producing cutting-edge research on how dementia impacts men and women differently.   

“We’re one of the first groups to show that women are very different to men in their risk for pathology,” Dr Buckley explains.  

“We’ve found over and again that older women show much higher levels of tau, a brain protein that becomes toxic in dementia.  

“Our most recent finding is that even middle-aged women have higher levels of tau, which we think is related to menopause. The use of hormone therapy may have a dual role in reducing or increasing the risk of dementia.” 

How lived experience informs research

Dementia Advocate Dennis Frost, who lives with dementia, said there were many advantages of taking part in research.

“The obvious is if you’re involved in the co-design in the early stages of the projects you can hopefully help shape a more functional project, which makes it more valid,” he said.

“Being a participant in research you’re hopefully contributing to improving the conditions and ultimately maybe even the development of cures and therapies.

“Additionally, the process of being involved is therapeutic itself as you’ve got more activities to be involved in and often they’re intellectually stimulating.”

Fellow Dementia Advocate Tara Quirke, who cared for her father and her husband before they passed away, said it was vital that researchers took into account the wants and needs of consumers.

Tara sits on the Dementia Australia Research Foundation’s scientific panel, which leads the external assessment of the Dementia Grants Program.

“Involving people with lived experience of dementia in research projects right from the beginning leads to better outcomes for everyone,” she said.

“The most important thing is to listen and take the time to build positive relationships. We’re all in this together, working to find treatments and possible a cure in the future.”

If you would like to be involved in a research project into dementia, you can find all studies that are currently recruiting participants on our website.

Donating for change

Dementia Australia Research Foundation Chair and Dementia Australia Patron Professor Graeme Samuel AC said the Foundation had spent 25 years funding revolutionary projects to expediate medical breakthrough and to improve the lives of people living with dementia.   

“During this time, they’ve enhanced our understanding of dementia at a cellular level and have developed models of care that are improving life for people living with dementia and their carers,” Professor Samuel said. 

“A recent survey of grant recipients over the past 25 years found that 75 per cent were still working in dementia research and 97 per cent had mentored new researchers in the field.” 

Professor Samuel said the Dementia Australia Research Foundation’s work wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of donors large and small. 

“Thank you to everyone who has donated over the past 25 years,” Professor Samuel said.  

Navarra Venues CEO Sal Navarra is one such donor raising more than $1 million for Dementia Australia Research Foundation since 2015. 

The Sarina Navarra Project Grant, which is awarded through the Dementia Australia Research Foundation, was created in memory of Sal’s mother Sarina, who passed away in 2022. 

In 2023 the Sarina Navarra Project Grant was awarded to a project exploring if intermittent fasting may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.  

“Dementia Australia does phenomenal work, and we're honoured to collaborate with them to drive innovation and improve the lives of those living with dementia,” Mr Navarra said. 

To find out more about how you can support innovative dementia research visit

Share or print
Last updated
18 April 2024