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Grants boost to help brightest young researchers dive into dementia research

Twenty of Australia’s best and brightest young scientists will share in $875,000 to conduct ground-breaking dementia research, as the Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation’s 2015 grant recipients are announced.

The Foundation’s Chair, Scientia Professor Henry Brodaty AO, said with dementia the second leading cause of death in Australia and no cause or cure for the condition yet available, the grants were vital to improving future outcomes for people living with the condition and their carers, family and friends. Professor Brodaty said:

“These enthusiastic early career researchers are ready, willing and now able to make a difference in the field of dementia research.

They are vital to solving the puzzle of this condition and unlocking better tools for diagnosis, treatments and ultimately a cure for dementia, but we must support the work they do and grant rounds like the latest from the Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation are essential in growing dementia research in Australia.

There are more than 353,800 people currently living with dementia and without a major research breakthrough for new treatments, approximately 900,000 of us are likely to develop dementia by 2050.”

This year, the Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation has partnered with the Yulgilbar Foundation to increase the momentum of scientific research into the causes and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and with the Dementia Collaborative Research Centres to enhance awards of PhD scholarships.

Dr Arne Ittner from the University of New South Wales was awarded a $50,000 Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation – Yulgilbar Foundation Project Grant, and will use the funding to provide a detailed understanding of a new protective mechanism for Alzheimer’s disease, which may serve as a target for future drug development. Dr Ittner said:

“In this project, we aim at understanding how the toxic effect of the amyloid substance that occurs in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease can be blocked by a novel factor that is present in brain cells.

This novel inhibitory factor is called ‘MAP kinase’ and it has the ability to keep the damage caused by amyloid in check. We want to find out how it does that and whether we can increase this factor’s ability. With this knowledge – we hope – a new therapy may be devised.”

Four PhD scholars will be supported through the Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation’s partnership with the Dementia Collaborative Research Centres. Alzheimer’s Australia National President, Professor Graeme Samuel AC, said:

“This welcomed support will build capacity in the dementia research community by encouraging talented graduates and emerging researchers to embark on a career in dementia.”

The Foundation has announced a call for applications for to the 2016 Dementia Grants Program with a further $1.01 million available for new and early career dementia researchers.

2015 Dementia Grants Program Award Recipients (for funding commencing in 2016)

Project Grants*

* Each project grant is valued at $50,000. ^ Funding provided by Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation - Victoria

Scholarships and Fellowships

* Award funding is matched 1:1 by the host institution (up to the value of $15,000 per year for three years). Additional funding is provided for research-related expenses ($2,500 per year for three years).
Sources: 

Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation is the research arm of Alzheimer’s Australia. It supports and funds research to help people living with dementia and their families, including research to develop new treatments for the future.

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