Dementia Research News, Issue 29 - December 2019

Director's update – Year in Review

Welcome to the last edition of the Dementia Research News for 2019. It's been an incredibly busy and thoroughly rewarding year.

In March, NNIDR’s National Public Lecture Tour 2019 visited six cities around the country and examined how to apply the latest dementia care research across all settings.

This was followed in June by the fourth annual Australian Dementia Forum (ADF2019), which took place in Hobart. A record 425 delegates attended and for the first time, the Australian Dementia Forum included a Public Information Session, where leading researchers addressed over 190 attendees from the public on the latest dementia research findings.

In September, NNIDR partnered with the US Alzheimer's Association to bring the 2019 AAIC Satellite Symposium to Sydney and I'd like to thank Alzheimer's Association CEO Dr Harry Johns and Alzheimer's Association Chief Science Officer Dr Maria Carillo for giving us the opportunity to partner on this significant event.

On the policy front, the Hon. Senator Richard Colbeck, in his capacity as Minister for Aged Care, launched the 2019 Strategic Roadmap for Dementia Research and Translation, which is available online and which was developed with extensive NNIDR Member and stakeholder consultation.

We also saw the final research investments made under the $200 million Boosting Dementia Research Initiative. $21 million was allocated for 13 research projects that will focus on risk reduction, prevention and tracking of dementia.

This year has also seen the expansion of NNIDR’s researcher development program, led by the NNIDR Accelerator Working Group. Consisting of a webinar series, a sponsorship program, and development opportunities and workshops, the Accelerator Working Group has provided NNIDR Fellows and early- to mid-career dementia researchers with wonderful opportunities to explore culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities in research; research communications and media; and crafting competitive grant applications. Our thanks go to Associate Professor Lee-Fay Low who has mentored the Working Group, outgoing members Dr Mitch Goldsworthy, Dr Loren Mowszowski, Dr Ashleigh Smith and Associate Professor Genevieve Steiner, and all Accelerator Working Group members for their hard work and dedication to developing dementia research capacity in Australia.

Elsewhere in this edition is a warm welcome to our first research policy placement, Dr Alex Bahar-Fuchs, the latest news from the Dementia Centre for Research Collaboration (DCRC), and your chance to contribute to the evaluation of the National Framework for Action on Dementia 2015-2019.

I'd like to thank you all for your dedication, hard work and support this year. As always, it's a privilege to support the research undertaken through the Boosting Dementia Research Initiative and the immense dedication of Australian researchers working in the field of dementia. 2019 has seen the NNIDR community grow and evolve into a dynamic group of researchers, policy makers, service providers and most importantly, our generous public advisors who volunteer to be involved in research, all of whom are working together at the forefront of improving outcomes for people living with dementia, and their carers and families. 

On behalf of the NNIDR team, I wish you an enjoyable and safe holiday period and look forward to seeing you all in the New Year!

Abstract submissions for ADF2020 closing in the new year

With the end of a busy year fast approaching, NNIDR and the ADF2020 Program Committee would like to remind you that abstracts and registrations are open for next year's Forum.

Abstracts may be submitted for an oral, rapid, or poster presentation.

Abstract submissions should address the priority areas of prevention, assessment and diagnosis, intervention and treatment, living with dementia, or care, and should address the Forum theme - Innovation, Discovery and Translation.

ADF2020 Accommodation

NNIDR has secured accommodation deals for ADF2020 delegates at the Intercontinental Adelaide, Pullman Adelaide, The Stamford Plaza Adelaide, The Playford Adelaide, the Miller Apartments, The Mac Boutique Hotel, Ibis Adelaide and Adelaide Paringa Motel. Discount codes and links will be sent to delegates following registration.

Please note: The week of ADF2020 is likely to be a busy time in Adelaide due to a rugby league State of Origin match on Wednesday, 3 June 2020. NNIDR recommends that delegates confirm their travel and accommodation early to avoid surge pricing. See you in Adelaide!

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National Framework for Action on Dementia 2015-2019 Evaluation Survey

A consultation process to evaluate the National Framework for Action on Dementia 2015 – 2019 (the Framework) is now open for public response.

The Framework guides the development and implementation of actions, plans and policies to reduce the risk of dementia and further improve outcomes for people with dementia, their families, and their carers.

This consultation, conducted by online survey, is a nation-wide evaluation focusing on the Framework’s seven priority areas; from increasing awareness and risk reduction through to promoting and supporting research. These priorities mirror the World Dementia Council's Global Action Plan for Dementia.

Led by WA Health and Curtin University, this consultation seeks to gain an in-depth understanding of the progress and effectiveness of the existing Framework, as well as put forward recommendations to inform options for future dementia policy in Australia from 2019 onwards.

Responses are being sought from:

People with a lived experience of dementia

Any person who has a diagnosis of dementia, a family member or a friend who knows of and/or provides support to a person with a diagnosis of dementia.

Policy development, service delivery, research or advocacy professionals

Health professionals including community, disability or aged care workers who are involved in providing dementia care, policy makers and research and advocacy professionals. People who deliver services or develop policy that impacts on people with dementia and their support networks.

The survey should take between 20 to 40 minutes to complete. The survey considers the Framework priority areas, as well as possible innovations and options for future dementia policy in Australia.

If you would like to view the questions in full before beginning the survey you can do so here - for people with a lived experience of dementia, or policy development or service delivery professionals.

The survey closes at 11.59pm AWST, Tuesday 31 December 2019. The Evaluation Team is looking for a broad range of responses and experiences, and highly values your response.

Please take the time to complete the survey and have your say on the future directions for dementia policy in Australia. Click here to complete the survey.

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Introducing Dr Alex Bahar-Fuchs - NNIDR Policy Placement for Special Interest Groups

NNIDR is pleased to announce that Dr Alex Bahar-Fuchs (University of Melbourne) has been selected for a policy placement to coordinate and provide strategic advice on our Special Interest Groups. Commencing in late 2019, Dr Bahar-Fuchs will bring to the task his highly relevant experience as Chair of the Non-Pharmacological Interventions Professional Interest Area of the International Society for the Advancement of Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment (ISTAART).

Dr Bahar-Fuchs is a Boosting Dementia Research Leadership Fellow and a founding member and Chair of CIDER – an international working group focusing on the advancement of methodological quality of cognition-focused intervention trials for people at risk of dementia. Dr Bahar-Fuchs’ research interests include the development, evaluation and synthesis of non-pharmacological interventions aimed at primary and secondary prevention of cognitive decline and dementia, as well as furthering the understanding of olfactory cognitive processes and their relevance to the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease.

Special Interest Groups are a key NNIDR mechanism for dementia research sector coordination and collaboration. They provide leadership opportunities for our early career researchers, and bring together members and stakeholders to address particular and emerging topics of interest. These include dementia prevention, rehabilitation, safe and effective use of medicines, stem cells and organoids, and cognitive impairment identification and care in hospitals.

Dr Bahar-Fuchs will work with Special Interest Group convenors to provide governance support to the Groups, as well as develop advice to NNIDR on the strengths, opportunities and strategic direction for this program.

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News from the Dementia Centre for Research Collaboration (DCRC)

2019 has been an exciting year for the DCRC with a new program of activities implemented, including the establishment of a Knowledge Translation (KT) program led by three KT Fellows – Dr Lidan Zheng, Kim Burns and Dr Margaret MacAndrew. They kicked off a fantastic month of education and training opportunities on 4 November, with an excellent workshop in Sydney with 36 keen participants and speakers. Another exciting development this year was setting up the DCRC Special Interest Groups (SIGs). Currently there are three active SIGs - Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms associated with Dementia (BPSD), Risk and Resilience, and Care in Dementia.

The International Research Network for Dementia Prevention (IRNDP) workshop (14-15 November) saw over 100 people from Australia and around the world attend, and provided a great face-to-face opportunity for established collaborators to meet and form new networks. November ended with a BPSD workshop, attended by 100 people. The workshop featured an interesting mix of lightning presentations, longer presentations and a collaborative afternoon tackling the current big issues in the area of behavioural symptoms.

In 2019, the DCRC launched its World Class Research and Scholarship Program. The DCRC awarded three PhD scholarships and 15 travel grants. Travel grant awardees attended a variety of ageing and dementia conferences locally and internationally where they had the opportunity to share their own research, learn what else is happening in their research area, and network.

The first rounds of DCRC Pilot and Large Grants announced this year were incredibly well-received. The DCRC partnered with the Dementia Australia Research Foundation to co-fund the Pilot Grants Program which will award several projects up to $75,000 in research funding over 2 years. Successful projects in the Pilot Grants Program will be announced in early 2020. The Large Grants call attracted over 40 applications for the funding of three grants of up to $600,000 in research funding over 3 years. Announcement of the Large Grants round is expected in February 2020.

In 2020, the DCRC is looking forward to offering more PhD and travel scholarships as well as another round of the Pilot and Large Grants as part of the World Class Research Program. The DCRC will also be looking to fund projects where the primary aim is Knowledge Translation - a key focus of the DCRC. 

Updates on grant and scholarship opportunities and calls for Special Interest Group members will be circulated to NNIDR members as soon as they are available.

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Co-designed dementia diagnosis and post-diagnostic care (COGNISANCE) 


Many countries have national guidelines for the diagnosis and management of dementia. However people diagnosed with dementia and their family care partners are often dissatisfied with the diagnostic process and receive limited post-diagnostic support. COGNISANCE aims to provide a new, internationally adaptable set of co-designed recommendations and toolkits for persons living with dementia (PLWD), their care partners and health care practitioners on how to make the diagnostic process and post diagnostic care as positive an experience as possible. We aim to embed best practice and empower PLWD and families through social marketing campaigns in selected localities in the participating countries.

COGNISANCE is an international consortium led by Australia and spans ten universities in five countries; Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Poland. There are multiple work packages over the three-year project. These include:

  • using surveys and focus groups to better understand current experiences, barriers and facilitators to dementia diagnosis and post-diagnosis support from the perspectives of people with dementia, care partners and health care professionals (led by the Netherlands)
  • co-designing internationally adaptable toolkits that support guideline implementation for health care professionals and empower the at-risk public to seek timely diagnosis and support (United Kingdom)
  • devising and delivering social marketing campaigns in selected regions of each country to produce positive behavioural change through using the toolkits (Australia)
  • evaluating the effectiveness of campaigns by measuring impact on the experience of diagnosis and post-diagnosis support for PWD and care partners, as well as practitioner attitudes and actions (Canada)
  • developing an implementation ‘playbook’ that provides guidance on developing locally adapted campaigns in other countries (Poland).

The study is led by Professor Henry Brodaty (UNSW Sydney), Associate Professor Lee-Fay Low (University of Sydney), Professor Isabelle Vedel (McGill University), Frans Verhey (Maastricht University), Joanna Rymaszewska (Wroclaw Medical University), Professor Greta Rait and Professor Dame Louise Robinson (University College London and Newcastle University). External partners include Kate Swaffer (Dementia Alliance International), Dr Katrin Seeher (World Health Organisation), Wendy Weidner (Alzheimer’s Disease International), Dr Lyn Phillipson (University of Wollongong), Carrie McAiney (University of Waterloo), and Shelly Doucet (New Brunswick University).

For further information please see the study website, or contact the study co-ordinator, Dr Meredith Gresham at

This project was awarded by the EU Joint Program – Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Program (JPND) and is funded by national funding bodies. NNIDR provides Australia’s representation on the JPND Board.

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Development Webinar Series - latest edition now available online

The fourth instalment of the NNIDR Development Webinar Series for 2019 took place on 8 November 2019.

The topic, NHMRC Investigator and Ideas Grants: Improve Your Competitiveness, considered strategies for addressing assessment criteria and improving the quality of applications for dementia related research.

The webinar was chaired by NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Development Fellow, Associate Professor Genevieve Steiner, and included the insights of Dr Ashleigh Smith, Dr Louise Mewton, Professor Tim Karl, Associate Professor Olga Shimoni and Dr Marco Morsch.

The webinar is available here.

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Current Funding Rounds

National Network for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researchers

NHMRC has committed to funding a National Network for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researchers as part of responding to Road Map 3: A strategic framework for improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health through research.

The Network will need to bring together many different organisations. This document is intended to provide interested parties with the information that will allow initial discussions about collaborations or consortia to occur, while the final details and approvals for this call are being determined. Expressions of interest due to NHMRC by mid-January 2020Visit the NHMRC website for more information.

The Medical Research Future Fund - Primary Health Care Research Initiative

The Primary Health Care Research Initiative aims to enable or support an increase in Australia’s evidence base in primary health care through research to improve service delivery and patient outcomes and translate this knowledge into action.  The following priority primary health care research topics are targeted: 

  • the provision of primary health care services in residential aged care and to older Australians in the community
  • lessons from comprehensive primary health care service for Indigenous Australians for the broader primary health care system 
  • mental health service provision by general practice 
  • application of precision medicine and genomics in primary health care
  • rural and regional access to services 
  • workforce issues including scope of practice,  voluntary patient enrolment and blended payments.

Applications must satisfy all the requirements set out in the 2019 Primary Health Care Research Grant Guidelines. Applications close 5 February 2020. Visit the Grant Connect for more information.

The Medical Research Future Fund – Emerging Priorities and Consumer Driven Research Initiative

The Emerging Priorities and Consumer Driven Research Initiative is designed to support high quality research that improves patient care, translates new discoveries and encourages joint collaboration of consumers and researchers in undertaking research in emerging priority areas.  The objectives of the 2019 Mental Health Pharmacogenomics Grant Opportunity are to:  

  • reduce barriers to clinical uptake of pharmacogenomics testing for patients presenting with neuropsychiatric conditions
  • address gaps in evidence related to the application of pharmacogenomics for neuropsychiatric conditions 
  • encourage research that combines new or existing technologies with large-scale data  machine learning  clinical information  or patient biomarkers to develop new or refine existing tests that facilitate improved personalisation and efficacy of psychotropic medication regimens.

Applications must satisfy all the requirements set out in the 2019 Mental Health Pharmacogenomics Grant Guidelines. Applications close 5 February 2020. Visit Grant Connect for more information.

2019 Rural, Regional & Remote Clinical Trial Enabling Infrastructure Grant

The 2019 Rural Regional and Remote Clinical Trial Enabling Infrastructure grant opportunity was announced as part of the Medical Research Future Fund and is an initiative under the National Critical Infrastructure Initiative. New and innovative approaches to enhancing and improving clinical trial infrastructure (including facilities  research equipment systems and services) - by extending existing or providing new clinical trials into rural regional and remote areas - holds the potential to address many of the existing barriers  such as distance, geographical isolation and workforce capacity. The intent of this grant opportunity is to provide initial stimulus funding for innovative approaches with potential for national application. It is not to be a source of funding for routine and on-going activities eligible for funding though existing funding mechanisms. The objectives of the grant opportunity are:

  • improved facilities equipment services and systems in rural, regional and remote Australia
  • improved quality of care and health outcomes for patients through quicker and easier access to medical treatments drugs, therapies and devices  through participation in clinical trials
  • reduced burden costs and risks for patients and their families related to clinical trial participation 
  • increased research capacity including linkages leveraging and enhancements of existing local and national structures organisations facilities and/or workforce with flow-on effects to broader health services. 

The intended outcome of the grant opportunity is improved access to clinical trials by Australians living in rural, regional and remote areas of Australia. Applications close 3 March 2020Visit Grant Connect for more information.

Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Indigenous Grant Scheme

The ARC Discovery Indigenous scheme provides grant funding to support research projects led by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander researcher.

The ARC Discovery Indigenous scheme supports excellent basic and applied research and research training by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers as individuals and as teams; as well as national and international research collaborations.

The Discovery Indigenous scheme intends to expand the knowledge base and research capacity in Australia; and contribute to economic, commercial, environmental, social and/or cultural benefits for Australia.

To be considered for an ARC Discovery Indigenous grant, applications must nominate at least one Chief Investigator (CI) or a Discovery Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Award (DAATSIA) candidate. The first-named CI must be an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander researcher and will be the Project Leader. Applications close 18 March 2020. Visit the ARC website for more information.

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Upcoming Events

Australian Dementia Forum 2020 | 31 May-2 June 2020 | Adelaide
ADF2020 - Dementia Research: Innovation, Discovery and Translationencourages the research community to celebrate the discoveries and innovation achieved through recent targeted efforts like the Boosting Dementia Research Initiative. The Forum will also look forward to the task of translating research outcomes into practice and improving the life of those living with dementia, their families and carers.
Visit the ADF2020 website to register and find out more.

34th International Conference of Alzheimer's Disease International | 19-21 March 2020 | Singapore
This unique, multi-disciplinary event brings together all those with an interest in dementia, including researchers, scientists, clinicians, allied healthcare professionals, people living with dementia, family members, care professionals, and staff and volunteers of Alzheimer associations. 
Visit the ADI Conference website for more details.

Dementia Australia National Symposium | 24 March 2020 | Sydney

Dementia Australia’s National Symposium 2020 - Quality care is dementia care, is the culmination of Dementia Australia’s Quality Care Initiative, a project started in 2018 to identify how people living with dementia, and their families and carers define quality dementia care. The symposium will provide a timely opportunity within the context of the work of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety to explore the importance of leadership in shaping culture to achieve the outcomes consumers are seeking. Delegates will hear from providers on how they are achieving engaged workforces who are delivering improved outcomes for consumers.
Visit the Symposium website for more details. 

ANZGSM Annual Scientific Meeting 2020 | 27-29 May 2020 | Melbourne

The 2020 Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Geriatric Medicine - Vision for the future, is an opportunity to look at the emerging themes in Geriatric Medicine and how these will impact on the care of the older person into the future. The scientific programme will feature updates in dementia and delirium and the Australian Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. 
Visit the Scientific Meeting website for more details.


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Useful References

National Framework for Action on Dementia 2015-2019
Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council (AHMAC)
Click here to read the Framework.

EMERGE and ENGAGE Topline Results: Two Phase 3 Studies to Evaluate Aducanamab in Patients with Early Alzheimer's Disease - webcast from CTAD2019, San Diego
Haeberlein SB, von Hehn C, Tian Y, Chalkias S, Muralidharan KK, Chen T, Wu S, Li J, Skordos L, Nisenbaum L, Rajagovindan R, Dent G, Harrison K, Nestorov I, Zhu Y, Mallinckrodt C, Sandrock A
Click here to watch the presentation at CTAD.

Occupational therapy for people with dementia and their family carers provided at home: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Bennett S, Laver K, Voigt-Radloff S, Letts L, Clemson L, Graff M, Wiseman J, Gitlin L
BMJ Open
Click here to read the paper.

WHO's proposal for a decade of healthy ageing
Lloyd-Sherlock P, Kalache A, Kirkwood T, McKee M, Prince M
The Lancet
Click here to read the paper.

Reducing health inequity for Maori people in New Zealand
Hobbs M, Ahuriri-Driscoll A, Marek L, Campbell M, Tomintz M, Kingham S
The Lancet
Click here to read the paper.

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