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  • New report outlines dementia breakthroughs over 25 years

    Author: Nicole Madigan

A new report has highlighted more than 380 cutting edge research projects funded by more than $31 million from Dementia Australia Research Foundation, as it marks 25 years of support.

In the report, More than a cure: 25 years of impact, specific projects and innovative researchers that have made a tangible impact on dementia research were detailed, including medical breakthroughs to improve the lives of people living with dementia. 

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Dementia Australia Research Foundation Chair and Dementia Australia Patron Professor Graeme Samuel AC said Dementia Australia Research Foundation funded researchers across all stages of their career but maintained a particular focus on supporting Australia’s talented new and early career dementia researchers.

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, he said.

Dr Rachel Buckley was awarded a two-year Post-Doctoral Fellowship in 2014, supercharging her career. 

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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, which is Harvard University’s largest teaching hospital.

Here, Dr Buckley produces 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 said.

“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.”

Donors are critical to the success of Dementia Australia Research Foundation. Navarra Venues CEO, Sal Navarra, is one such donor, who has raised 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.

It’s predicted that the number of Australians living with dementia will approach 800,000 in the next 35 years.

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Nicole Madigan

Nicole Madigan is a widely published journalist with more than 15 years experience in the media and communications industries.

Specialising in health, business, property and finance, Nicole writes regularly for numerous high-profile newspapers, magazines and online publications.

Before moving into freelance writing almost a decade ago, Nicole was an on-air reporter with Channel Nine and a newspaper journalist with News Limited.

Nicole is also the Director of content and communications agency Stella Communications (www.stellacomms.com) and a children's author.