Neurodegeneration is the process by which a part of your brain dies as a result of trauma or disease.
There are several well-known diseases where neurodegeneration occurs, including Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, in which your memory and ability to think are affected, and Parkinson’s disease and related disorders, in which your ability to move is affected.
At present, we don’t know how to prevent or cure neurodegenerative diseases, and our ability to treat them is limited. In most cases, we don’t know what causes these diseases.
Neurodegenerative disorders impact severely on your quality of life, as well as that of your family. The financial cost of these disorders – both to those affected by the disease and the Australian health system – is significant.
At Neuroscience Research Australia, we are identifying the causes of these disorders and are working towards developing better diagnostic methods and improved treatments. As part of this research, we are also examining what happens to the brain as we age.
Our Aboriginal Health & Ageing Research Group examines the role of early-life brain growth, late-life brain decline, risk and behavioural factors and social determinants: in Indigenous and non-Indigenous ageing; in lifespan; and in the epidemiology of cognitive, behavioural and somatic (body) disorders of ageing. The longitudinal NHMRC Sydney Older Persons Study (SOPS – 1992-2003) examined the epidemiology of normal brain ageing and neurodegenerative disorders in non-Indigenous Australians. The Koori Growing Old Well Study (KGOWS – 2008-2016) is examining links between social and bio-medical risks, lifespan and late-life health and cognitive outcomes in five NSW Aboriginal communities; with a current focus on research translation into healthy ageing programs relevant to Indigenous Australians.
This group is an innovative multi-disciplinary team addressing ageing research, with a focus on vital community lifestyle solutions around dementia in the Australian community. Using psychological and population health approaches, her research programs focus on interventions to reduce risk of dementia, cognitive ageing and decision-making, interventions to improve driving skill, and longitudinal studies of health and ageing.
My main research focus is to gain a better understanding of the genetic and environmental factors involved in ageing and age-related disease. The genetic factors that may be involved include variation at the nucleotide level, epigenetic variation, epistasis and gene-environmental interactions. Current research is being undertaken using large population cohorts of older Australians and examining the genetic variation and environmental factors associated with ageing phenotypes.
Our Aboriginal Health & Ageing Research Group examines the role of early-life brain growth, late-life brain decline, risk and behavioural factors and social determinants: in Indigenous and non-Indigenous ageing; in lifespan; and in the epidemiology of cognitive, behavioural and somatic (body) disorders of ageing.