Dementia Dispatch Issue 19, December 2017

Director's Update

In this final Newsletter for 2017, we celebrate the winners of our best presentation and best speaker awards at ADF2017 and bring you news of two important international initiatives – The European Framework JPND Program’s Global Cohort Portal and the International Research Network on Dementia Prevention.

Looking back, it has been a huge year for NNIDR, with three national events held and five funding schemes progressed, all addressing critical priorities for dementia research in Australia. An additional $41 million has been committed to boosting dementia research in 2017, with 46 new projects underway including 32 Boosting Dementia Research Leadership Fellowships. This is in addition to the $26.2 million in dementia-focussed NHMRC Project Grants that have just been announced and the ongoing investment made by NHMRC through other schemes to a range of dementia initiatives around the country.

The NNIDR Expert Advisory Panel has continued to survey the national dementia research landscape to establish areas requiring strategic intervention. This is important work and in 2018 we will seek to more fully involve the membership in preparing this policy advice.  As a first step, your views will be sought on the currency of the Strategic Roadmap for Dementia Research and Translation. What are we doing well? Are there priorities within the Roadmap that need particular attention? Should the objectives and outcomes remain the same?  We look forward to your thoughts and guidance.

We will also be sharing the outcomes from Board and Expert Advisory Panel meetings via Communiques, loaded to the newly launched Member Portal after each meeting. Your input on the items being discussed will be encouraged.

There have been significant changes to Board and Expert Advisory Panel membership this year. I take the opportunity to thank Penny Flett and Samantha Baillieu for their contributions to the Board from NNIDR’s establishment, and to welcome Samantha Bowen and Gary Barnier to Board membership. Expert Advisory Panel members Eleanor Flynn, Louise Heuzenroeder and Mike Rungie are also to be thanked for their contributions and commitment to furthering the National Institute as an important new platform for dementia research development in Australia. We look forward to welcoming new members to the Expert Advisory Panel in 2018.

In November we said farewell to Christopher Pettigrew, who has taken up an exciting role in research strategy and management at the National Breast Cancer Foundation, after seeing the Institute through its first pivotal years. This month, Jo Haslam returns to her substantive role at the University of Canberra, after helping us maintain and develop Institute programs while we restructured our service delivery. Jo’s positive impact on NNIDR programs has been greatly appreciated.

I look forward to introducing the new NNIDR team to you in early 2018, and wish you all a fabulous festive break.

Making connections: the JPND Global Cohort Portal

Through NHMRC and NNIDR, Australia is a member country of the EU Joint Programme – Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND). A key activity within JPND’s current Operating Plan is to establish a web portal for longitudinal cohorts that can be utilised for neurodegenerative research. JPND announced the Portal’s launch on the 31st of October.

Users of the JPND Global Cohort Portal can search a catalogue of cohort studies based on a range of criteria, including study type, disease and country that covers both disease-focused and general population studies from countries around the world, then review, filter, compare and manipulate the data in different views. If a search of the portal shows that certain data doesn’t exist, it may strengthen the case for funding a new cohort.

By providing users with an overview of and contact details for each cohort, this publicly available resource aims to facilitate information exchange and collaborations. The Portal will open up new research opportunities, improve efficiency and avoid duplication of existing work.

Longitudinal cohort studies allow researchers to collect data on populations over time in order to establish high quality correlations and tease out new clues regarding the determinants and risk factors of disease. As such, cohorts are among the most important tools for current and future research on neurodegeneration.

Currently there are 110 cohorts that have been established for neurodegenerative disease research in the international Portal, less than ten of which are Australian dementia research cohorts. At NNIDR’s last audit of Australian cohorts, conducted in February 2016, we identified more than 30 cohorts from at least 20 studies.  We encourage all researchers that are managing dementia research cohorts to list them on the new Portal.

Visit the Global Cohort Portal

Save the Date 3-6 June

The Australian Dementia Forum 2018 (ADF2018) is the third Annual Forum of the NHMRC National Institute for Dementia Research NNIDR.  The Forum theme – Cooperation, Collaboration and International connections in the Dementia Research Landscape, will bring together international and Australian dementia researchers to explore collaborations and build connections that will enable better research and translation leading to better health outcomes.

International programs will be featured, in addition to a range of speakers exploring the impact of cooperation, collaboration and international connections on the dementia research landscape in Australia.

Forum speakers will include international and national keynote presenters, preeminent researchers, including recipients of international dementia research funding, policy makers, and community and research leaders.

ADF2017 Presenter and Poster Prizes

This year, NNIDR asked all NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Development Fellows to submit abstracts, provide posters for, and attend the annual Australian Dementia Forum (ADF 2017) and almost all Fellows were able to do so. Many other dementia researchers also submitted abstracts and provided posters, leading to over 131 posters on display over the three days. We encourage all authors to upload their posters (or a version thereof) into the Members Portal to ensure the opportunity for awareness raising and collaboration is maximised.

Best Presentation was awarded to:

Dr Shaun Frost from CSIRO

Eye Imaging for early detection of Alzheimer’s Disease  

Dr Shaun Frost is testing multiple modalities of eye imaging for early detection and monitoring of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Retinal amyloid-beta plaques are imaged in-vivo using oral dosing with curcumin. The retinal microvasculature is also imaged to investigate the vascular component of AD, and the thickness of nerve cell layers in the retina is imaged using optical coherence tomography to evaluate inflammation and atrophy. Additionally, central cholinergic depletion in AD may extend to the anterior eye and present as altered pupil light response.    

The results suggest that ocular changes may occur in the preclinical phase of AD. Hence, eye testing has a potential as an adjunct for non-invasive, cost-effective screening for preclinical AD. Ocular testing is a potential initial screen for AD that could be delivered as part of regular eye checks. Micrometer-level imaging resolution could also allow accurate monitoring of individual retinal plaques within AD therapeutic trials.

A ‘Best Poster’ Award was given in each of the five priority areas of the Strategic Roadmap for Dementia Research and Translation.  Congratulations to all winners. Their abstracts can be found at https://www.nnidr.gov.au/sites/default/files/adf2017_abstract_book.pdf or log in to the Members portal [https://www.nnidr.gov.au/user/login] to view their posters. The winners were:

Assessment and Diagnosis  

Dr Lesley Cheng from La Trobe

Brain enriched miRNA exosomal biomarkers associated with Alzheimer’s disease are detected in serum exosomes

Intervention

Dr Victor Anggono from the Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research, Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Glua1 Ubiquitination Mediates Amyloid-Beta-Induced Loss Of Surface Ampa Receptors

Prevention

Dr Ashleigh Smith from the University of South Australia

Moderate to vigorous physical activity is associated with EEG global power in older adults

Living with Dementia

Dr Jeanette Tamplin from the University of Melbourne

Musical Memories: Connecting community-dwelling people with dementia and their family caregivers through song

Care

Ms Deborah Brooks from Dementia Centre for Research Collaboration: Carers and Consumers, Queensland University of Technology (QUT),

Preparing carers of community-dwelling people with dementia for natural disasters: The Carer Ready Guide

For further information follow the link to the Carer Ready Guide.

Launch into the Members Portal

NNIDR has developed the online portal in consultation with its membership and the NHMRC, and it provides a platform for members to connect, collaborate and engage with the NNIDR. 

One of the most important aspects of the portal as identified by our membership is the feature to view other member’s profiles.  As such we strongly recommend that you accurately complete your profile as soon as possible.  You will be directed to the profile page when you first access the portal as a newly registered member, and you can update your profile at any time through the portal.

Once you have access to the portal you will find three different spaces for engagement with the NNIDR membership.

The Forum, which is an online space for discussion and collaboration with other NNIDR members. This is an evolving space, and if you have suggestions for a forum please email NNIDR@dementia.org.au. Please note that this is a respectful space and refer to the terms and conditions for further guidance if required.

Documents; this is a repository of NNIDR relevant documents, in addition to regular updates from the Expert Advisory Panel and the NNIDR Board.

Webinars where the NNIDR will host webinars for the membership. 

As soon as you post an item to the Forum, your profile will be open and available for viewing by other Portal users. So please introduce yourself in your first session within the Portal. Additionally, you have a Dashboard that provides an update on your portal activity.

If you would like to contribute content to the portal, you can do so through the Forum, or you can email NNIDR@dementia.org.au  with your content. 

Upcoming events

Mission Impossible - truth & lies in the age of choice

The ADF2018 is scheduled prior to the International Dementia Conference to allow the opportunity for researchers to engage in both the ADF2018 and the International Dementia Conference.

The International Dementia Conference is recognised internationally as an important calendar event for the aged and dementia care industry. It is pivotal in bringing to light the challenges faced in the age of choice.

https://www.dementiaconference.com/

Useful References

New international research network on dementia prevention

The Dementia Centre for Research Collaboration (DCRC) hub that focuses on early diagnosis and prevention has recently launched its first e-bulletin for a major international research project.

Called the International Research Network on Dementia Prevention (IRNDP) the project seeks to develop a global research network for dementia prevention and build the evidence-base on risk and protective factors for cognitive decline and dementia.

Anyone with an interest in dementia prevention or risk reduction is encouraged to join the network and contribute to its growth in a variety of ways.  Click here  to view the website, gather more information, become an IRNDP member, and subscribe to the e-bulletin.

Four Decades of Research in Alzheimer’s Disease (1975–2014): A Bibliometric and Scientometric Analysis

Find the full article

Share your story

If you have a story to share on dementia, whether its research or personal experience, please contact nnidr.admin@alzheimers.org.au or phone 02 6217 9172. Your story may be published in the next newsletter, or used as vignettes in Institute-related communication materials, or created into a feature story and pitched to the media.