Welcome to the March edition of 2022. Highlights in this issue include:
· Awards announced for the Australian Dementia Research Forum
· Bridging the evidence-to-practice gap for Mild Cognitive Impairment
· A new research project that aims to examine music as an intervention of cognitive decline
· The Homeside project is recruiting participants for a new study in cognitive interventions for people living with dementia
· Updates on grant opportunities
· Upcoming webinars
I hope you enjoy this month’s newsletter.
Prizes announced for the Australian Dementia Research Forum
The Australian Dementia Research Forum Organising Committee is proud to announce a Special Award. The Mr Baillieu Myer AC Award, for 2022, will go to the Best Poster for its Innovative Contribution to Alzheimer’s Research.
This is a special award in recognition of the late Mr Baillieu Myer AC. Mr Myer’s generosity and support through The Yulgilbar Foundation contributed to the success of the Australian Dementia Network.
The Organising Committee will also be awarding the Best Oral Presentation for each abstract theme and delegates will have the opportunity to vote for their favourite presentation for the People’s Choice Award.
Additionally, the top two posters from Early to Mid Career Researchers will also receive an award.
Attendees are also in the running to win a prize! Register to attend for your chance to win one of our daily engagement prizes.
We are thrilled to have eight keynote speakers, including:
Ms Paola Barbarino
Chief Executive Officer, Alzheimer’s Disease International, London, ENGLAND
Paola is CEO of Alzheimer’s Disease International. Prior to this, she was CEO of LIFE and occupied senior positions with Cass Business School, Tate, British Library and IIED. She is a Board Member of the World Dementia Council, a Trustee of The Postal Museum and of Lauderdale House.
Professor Charles de Carli
Director, Alzheimer’s Disease Center, University of California, USA
Charles DeCarli, MD, is Distinguished Professor of Neurology at the University of California in Davis, California and recipient of the Victor and Genevieve Orsi Chair in Alzheimer’s Research. He is the Director of the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center, a United States National Institutes of Health funded Alzheimer’s research center. He is also Director of the Imaging of Dementia and Aging (IDeA) laboratory.
His research focuses on using advanced structural and functional brain imaging to study normal aging, mild cognitive impairment and dementia and the role of genetics, diversity, cerebrovascular and Alzheimer’s disease on these processes. He is a recipient of the J. Allyn Taylor International Prize in Medicine—Imaging of the Aging Brain in recognition of his work.
Closing the Evidence to Practice Gap: Cognitive Interventions for Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)
The Australian Dementia Network’s Memory Clinics Initiative is dedicated to improving post-diagnostic care for older adults attending memory clinics. To bridge the evidence-to-practice gap and boost proactive cognitive care and dementia prevention efforts in Australian memory clinics, the Memory Clinics team has convened a specialist working party to drive the implementation of cognitive interventions into clinical practice.
The working party comprises national and international experts in the field and is committed to building capacity in this area with a joint USYD/UNSW PhD scholarship awarded to PhD student and neuropsychologist Alessandra Lee.
What is the evidence for cognitive training?
There is now compelling evidence from trials and meta-analyses that strategy and computer-based cognitive training improves cognitive outcomes (including memory, working memory, speed of information processing and executive functions) in people with MCI. It also appears to be associated with neurobiological changes such as increased brain volume and connectivity.
While cognitive benefits are robust, concurrent improvements in other areas of functioning are also encouraging and are often even more highly valued by patients.
How to get involved
There are two key upcoming activities:
Shortly, the team will be reaching out to Memory Clinic clinicians and patients to scope needs and interest in cognitive interventions and are keen to hear from all clinicians regarding their interest and needs.
Then, for 1-2 clinics in each state, the team will offer full training and ongoing support for those interested and willing to engage in a feasibility trial of cognitive interventions for people with MCI.
|Cognitive Interventions Working Party Membership
ADNeT Convenor: Prof Sharon Naismith, NHMRC Leadership II Fellow & Lead, Australian Dementia Network Memory Clinics Initiative, University of Sydney
Chair: Prof Alex Bahar-Fuchs, NHMRC Senior Leadership Fellow, University of Melbourne,
Co-Chair: Dr Loren Mowszowski, NHMRC-ARC Dementia Fellow, Brain and Mind Centre, University of Sydney
Expert members: A/Prof Kerryn Pike (Griffith University), Dr Amit Lampit (University of Melbourne), A/Prof Belinda Goodenough (Dementia Training Australia), PhD student: Alessandra Lee, PhD candidate, University of Sydney
ADNeT support: Adam Bentvelzen (Clinical Neuropsychologist, University of New South Wales), Inga Mehrani (ADNeT Memory Clinics National Program Manager, University of New South Wales)
If you are part of an Australian memory clinic and interested in being part of this initiative, please contact Dr Adam Bentvelzen [email@example.com] to register your interest.
Launch of new research: Can music slow the onset of neurodegenerative disease?
A new collaboration between the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music will aim to design a musical intervention to help those at risk of cognitive decline.
There is very little research to-date on using music training as a component of cognitive interventions for older people. This project will work with older people living with mild cognitive impairment, to understand the effectiveness of music training to slow or stop the progression of dementia.
This project, in collaboration with the Memory and Cognition Clinic at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, could create the evidence base needed to support wider implementation of musical interventions for people with mild cognitive impairment, the stage before dementia develops. Performing music involves complex, simultaneous motor and cognitive functions, and recent analysis showed some positive effects on cognition following musical training in healthy older people with mild cognitive impairment.
Lead researcher from the Brain and Mind Centre and ADNeT Memory Clinics Lead, Professor Sharon Naismith said: “Prevention is better than a cure. We have no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. We have no cure for all the other types of dementia. We need to focus on reducing cognitive decline, depression and underlying brain changes that are associated with dementia as early as we can. Music could be a powerful and enjoyable way to achieve this.”
Music and reading interventions for people living with dementia
The Homeside project is an international study investigating the effects of music and reading activities for people living with dementia and their caregivers. Researchers at the University of Melbourne are now recruiting participants across Australia for this free telehealth trial.
The majority of people with dementia live in the community and not in residential care settings. The Homeside project aims to address the need for improved informal care by training cohabiting caregivers to implement music and reading interventions that target behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia, to improve the quality of life and well-being of people with dementia and of their caregivers.
Grants for early to mid-career researchers
Are you an early to mid-career (EMCR) dementia researcher looking for grant opportunities, but not sure where to start? The ADNeT EMCR Accelerator group have put together a list of both dementia specific and general EMCR grant opportunities all in one place.
If you know of any others, please don’t hesitate to contact either Ayeisha Milligan Armstrong (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Dr Julien Bensalem (email@example.com). The list will be updated regularly with dates and status of application rounds.
Patient referral for screening and trials
Are you a clinician wanting to refer your patient for screening and trials? Our referral process has been updated and is now available as a direct online referral through our website. https://www.australiandementianetwork.org.au/clinician/refer-a-patient/
Volunteers needed for screening and trials
Persons aged over 55 are required for dementia prevention trials in each Australian state. If you are interested in being screened by blood tests and brain scans for future risk of Alzheimer’s disease with a view to participation in a trial if you are at increased risk, please register on the ADNeT research volunteer site.
Keeping Dementia Prevention and Care with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples ‘On TRACK’
The higher rates of dementia among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples compared to other Australians are now well-established. We are learning more about key risk factors and ways to promote brain and cognitive health that are most meaningful to this population. While more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are now living well into older age, projections of dementia are expected to rise significantly.
Dr Kylie Radford will discuss community-driven priorities for dementia research and translation; provide an update on the evidence for risk and protective factors, and relay information on what we are doing towards optimising brain health and reducing dementia disparities with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
A/Prof Dina LoGiudice will then discuss the preliminary findings of the ‘Let’s CHAT’ Dementia project – an ongoing national study that aims to optimise detection and management of dementia – and the co-design development of Best Practice approaches. She will also cover the plans for future research, including the On TRACK CARE for promoting brain health in older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Roslyn Malay will conclude the webinar by providing some insight into the experiences of carers, and the community-wide approaches required to support them and the person with dementia, particularly those living in remote communities.
When: April 21st, 4-5pm
Where: Live on Zoom
A new challenge for stroke services and neuropsychiatry
The advent of specialised stroke services globally has had a major impact on stroke mortality and morbidity by reducing the delays in getting effective treatments to patients. However, an inevitable consequence of these services is that they ‘sweep up’ people with non-stroke diagnoses (‘mimics’) including those with functional neurological disorders. Those with functional strokes are not well catered for by these services although their precise needs are poorly understood.
Professor Anthony David will present data on the prevalence of this problem from around the world and will put forward some ideas on what we might do about it.
When: Wednesday, 27 April 2022 – 5:00pm
Where: Live on Zoom
For more information contact Laurie Mock firstname.lastname@example.org