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.
Her research program focuses on neuropsychiatric symptoms in dementia and pre-clinical stages of dementia, neuroimaging and epidemiology. Her research program is structured around 4 key areas which aim to: 1) improve our understanding of dementia, its risk factors and trajectories; 2) better understand the impact of neuropsychiatric symptoms on dementia trajectories, quality of life and the provision of formal and informal care; 3) validate the concept of Mild Behavioural Impairment as a pre-clinical stage of dementia; and 4) develop and evaluate interventions to reduce neuropsychiatric symptoms associated with dementia, improve quality of life for people living with dementia and those providing care and develop useful support mechanisms.
Dr Kiely’s research adopts a contextualised perspective to human development across the life-course and spans the fields of life-course epidemiology, social psychiatry, and gero-psychology. His primary research interests cover aspects of healthy and productive ageing, focusing on three main themes: 1. the social, functional and cognitive impacts of sensory loss in late life, 2. inequalities in healthy life expectancy, and 3. social determinants of healthy ageing.
His work involves collaboration with the Schofield and Kwok groups for genetic studies and the Halliday group for neuropathological research, as well as the Frontier group for frontotemporal dementia research. Bill is currently working on the DIAN study (Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network), an international study of familial Alzheimer’s disease funded by the US National Institute on Ageing.
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.
The Halliday group concentrates on understanding the tissue changes associated with neurodegenerative dementias and movement disorders in order to develop mechanistic treatments and diagnostic tools.
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.
Dr Peters group works to develop our understanding of the risk factors which increase our risk of cognitive decline and dementia, with a particular focus on blood pressure and cardiovascular risk and the ways in which we might act to reduce this risk and support our cognitive function.