QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute will lead a major collaborative investigation into the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease.
The project has been awarded almost $6.5 million in funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
QIMR Berghofer’s Professor Michael Breakspear, the Chief Investigator on the project, said Alzheimer’s is an enormous burden to Australian society, with devastating consequences for those living with the disease as well as their families and carers.
“Action is required to tackle this issue facing our ageing population and the best way to do that is to uncover the origins of the disease earlier in life,” Professor Breakspear said.
“While the burden of dementia in Australia occurs late in life, the underlying brain disease accumulates decades prior to dementia onset.
“We will develop ways to identify those people at the very early stage of dementia, before their symptoms become evident.
“If we can start treatment at the earliest possible time we have the best chance to reduce the eventual impact of the disease.”
Professor Breakspear said with the support of the NHMRC and world-leading collaborators, the project will use genetic risk prediction, cutting-edge bio-informatics and the latest imaging technology.
QIMR Berghofer Director, Professor Frank Gannon said the project would be a key to reducing Australia’s future dementia burden.
“Our focus is always on translational science, advancing our important findings from bench to bedside, and this project is no exception,” Professor Gannon said.
“We would like to thank the NHMRC for recognising the exciting and innovative work underway at QIMR Berghofer.”
“There were many worthy applicants for these grants, and for QIMR Berghofer to come out on top in a highly-competitive, peer-reviewed process is a testament to the quality of our work in this area.”
Professor Gannon said the funding is particularly exciting as mental health is a relatively new focus of QIMR Berghofer’s medical research program.
“The Institute’s researchers are targeting mental health problems, such as dementia and depression, because of the tremendous need for better diagnoses, treatment and prevention strategies.”
This project is a collaboration between QIMR Berghofer, the University of Queensland, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and the University of Western Australia.