HEIDI DOUGLASS | h.douglass@unsw.edu.au

Co-Director of the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) at UNSW Medicine & Health, Scientia Professor Perminder Sachdev AM, has been awarded $3 million to lead a team of experts from eight universities and three research institutes to improve our understanding of vascular dementia, the second most common form of dementia.

The National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grant will fund the establishment of the Vascular Contributions to Dementia Centre for Research Excellence, with a vision of reducing the overall health burden of vascular dementia.

“Cerebral vascular disease makes a contribution to 50 – 70% of all dementia cases, and in 15 – 20% of cases, it is the predominant cause," Professor Sachdev said.

“Our new Centre hopes to place vascular dementia research at the forefront of dementia research, alongside that of Alzheimer’s disease, and meet the promise of vascular dementia as a truly preventable dementia.”

Professor Perminder Sachdev

Research into vascular cognitive impairment and dementia has lagged behind that of Alzheimer’s disease research, and the development of this Centre seeks to remedy this.

Professor Sachdev’s team includes leading researchers in the fields of cerebrovascular and cardiovascular disease and dementia, neuropsychiatry, cognitive neurology, geriatrics, neuroimaging, genetics, proteomics, lipidomics, bioinformatics and statistics from UNSW Sydney, University of Melbourne, Florey Institute, University of Newcastle, Garvan Institute, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, University of Queensland and Macquarie University; all of whom have played a major role in the international effort to establish research priorities in this field.

Together they will address the most critical questions relating to the diagnosis and epidemiology of vascular dementia and develop strategies for its prevention and treatment.

The Centre will also train and mentor the next generation of researchers in this field and develop a national think tank for vascular dementia.

“It will be the Australian hub of an international consortium of Centres that plan to make dementia prevention a reality.”

Professor Perminder Sachdev

Professor Sachdev said the team of experts had an effective dissemination and implementation strategy to ensure timely translation of its research, with the involvement of consumers as its core principle.

“Our cross-national collaborative network is complemented by collaborative agreements with the leading centres internationally to make this endeavour a truly global effort,” said Professor Sachdev.