Bipolar Disorder is a highly heritable mood disorder characterised by oscillating periods of depression and mania. Previous research has established that this illness is accompanied by widespread changes in brain structure and function. However, the causes of these changes remain unknown. Are these changes a result of the illness process? Are they a product of the medications used to manage Bipolar symptoms? Do they represent the underlying cause of the clinical symptoms observed in this disorder? The Bipolar “Kids and Sibs” Study attempts to answer these questions by studying the young first-degree relatives of Bipolar Disorder patients, who are at increased risk of developing Bipolar Disorder or another related mental illness in the future themselves. As these young “at-risk” individuals have not received a Bipolar diagnosis and are free from medication, they provide a unique opportunity to examine brain differences that relate to both risk for and resilience to Bipolar Disorder.
The aim of this study is to identify neuroimaging biomarkers that may differentiate individuals who will ultimately go on to develop Bipolar Disorder or another mental illness, from individuals who are resilient and will remain well. This may assist in identifying those who are most at risk before they become unwell, and allow for interventions that prevent progression to illness or minimise the impact of this condition.
Dr Kim Kiely (Lead Investigator) and Professor Kaarin Anstey (Co-investigator)
Australians are living longer and expected to work for longer than ever before. It is critical that additional years of life are at least matched by the increase in the years lived in good health, and that gains in healthy ageing are experienced across all sectors of society. There is also a great need to balance older adults’ capacity and opportunity to work with societal pressures to delay retirement.
The objective of this three-year project is to better understand individual and societal determinants that underlie variation in healthy ageing. We will identify characteristics that are tied to the years that older adults are able to engage in productive activities and live independently in good health. To achieve this, advanced health expectancy estimation methods are being used to analyse newly available mortality records that have been linked to national longitudinal survey data. These analyses will produce new, refined, estimates for Australia of ‘healthy life expectancy’ with ‘working life expectancy’. We will examine how these differ across sociodemographic strata, change over time, and compare internationally.
The project is funded by an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project (DP190100459).
Dr Kim Kiely (Lead Investigator), Professor Kaarin Anstey (Associate Investigator) and Dr Ranmalee Eramudugolla (Associate Investigator)
With increasing age, nearly all adults experience progressive, irreversible, and bilateral declines in hearing ability. As a result, hearing loss is one of the most common chronic health conditions affecting older adults and if unmanaged its impacts are wide ranging and long lasting.
There is good evidence indicating that older adults with significant hearing difficulties are more likely to experience cognitive decline and dementia, but reasons for this association are unknown.
This project will investigate how hearing loss is related to cognitive impairment. Firstly, it will compare levels of hearing function and use of hearing services by cognitive status. Second, it will examine if the relationship between poor hearing and impaired cognitive functioning is explained by lower levels of participation in activities that are good for brain health. Third, it will investigate if hearing rehabilitation services and hearing aids protect against poorer levels of cognitive function.
The project is funded by a Dementia Australia Research Foundation (DARF) Project Grant