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Vascular contributions to dementia

Dr Matthew Pase, Institution: Monash University

2018 Future Leader Fellowship

Years funded: 2019-2022


With no disease-modifying therapies for the most common forms of dementia, over 1 million Australians are expected to be living with dementia by the year 2056, costing more than $36 billion each year. Reducing the rates of dementia by just 5% is forecast to prevent 261,000 dementia cases in Australia saving more than $120 billion by 2056. This research is in direct response to the growing burden of dementia and the need to identify evidence-based strategies for dementia prevention.

There is substantial evidence to indicate that risk factors for cardiovascular disease also contribute to the risk of later life cognitive impairment and dementia. However, how vascular risk factors contribute to dementia is not well understood. As many vascular risk factors are modifiable, this critical gap in knowledge is a major barrier to the development of therapies and guidelines to reduce dementia burden. In response, this program aims to comprehensively examine cardiovascular contributions to vascular-related brain injury, Alzheimer's disease, and dementia. This research will also address the pressing need to develop low-cost, non-invasive biomarkers that can identify individuals with vascular brain injury who are most at risk of developing dementia. Two clinically relevant themes will be addressed.

Theme 1 will define the contributions of vascular risk factors to the genesis of Alzheimer’s disease, the commonest form of dementia.

Theme 2 will identify blood biomarkers that can help identify people with vascular brain injury who are at the greatest risk for dementia.

These research themes will be addressed by investing in local population-based cohorts and by leveraging data from established legacy cohorts and consortia.

My research vision may help identify persons with vascular brain injury most at risk of dementia and uncover new treatment targets to reduce dementia burden.

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