The Dementia Australia Research Foundation and the Yulgilbar Alzheimer’s Research Program have announced three, rather than one, recipients of the inaugural $1 million innovation grant for new ideas that advance dementia research.
Dementia Australia Research Foundation Chair, Professor Graeme Samuel AC, said submissions to the $1 million grant so inspired the judging panel and funders that an additional $1 million would be shared between two runner-up projects.
“Dementia Australia is thrilled to see the grant attract internationally-recognised scientists and researchers across areas of nanoscience, stem-cell biology and health data,” Prof. Samuel said.
Prof. Perminder Sachdev, of UNSW Sydney’s Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing, took the $1 million grant. Two new $500,000 grants also were awarded to Prof. Simon Bell at the Centre for Medicine Use and Safety, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Monash University, and Prof. Chennupati Jagadish from the Australian National University.
Yulgilbar’s Scientific Director, Prof. Bob Williamson, said the judging panel assessed all submissions for their novelty and innovation; links to people living with dementia, families and carers; and the extent to which they would be developing and introducing new and younger researchers into the dementia field.
“I congratulate Prof. Sachdev and his team, who propose to use nanoparticles to move across the blood brain barrier and target dementia-specific molecules,” Prof. Williamson said.
“This offers a chance of better, more rapid and accurate diagnosis, and the team hopes to show nanoparticles may be used to piggy-back drugs into the brain to delay or treat dementia.”
Runner-up recipient Prof. Bell, with colleagues from the United States, United Kingdom and Hong Kong, will evaluate health data from hundreds of thousands of patients.
“Using modern big data and public health techniques, Prof. Bell will be able to work out which drugs to use to support people with dementia, possibly allowing personalised treatment,” Prof. Williamson said.
In a world first, the second runner-up recipient Prof. Jagadish will combine technologies in stem cell research with artificial intelligence (AI) to identify key functional differences between normal and Alzheimer’s disease brain function.
For more information, go to Dementia Australia Research Foundation.