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Neuroscientist awarded grant for dementia research

National Health And Medical Research Council to fund innovative research into Alzheimer’s disease

University of Wollongong (UOW) researcher Dr Lezanne Ooi has been awarded a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Research Leadership Fellowship in the latest round of dementia research funding announced by the Federal Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP.

The NHMRC grants support researchers undertaking projects to prevent, diagnose, treat and manage dementia, including its most common form, Alzheimer’s disease.

There are estimated to be 413,106 Australians living with dementia and by 2025 this number is expected to increase to 536,000.

The Research Leadership Fellowships aim to expand leadership in dementia research by supporting mid-career researchers as they lead the way to new discoveries.

A neuroscientist at the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI), Dr Ooi has been awarded $720,144 for her research on neuronal membranes and connections in dementia, which will investigate how patient neuronal membranes change as Alzheimer’s disease develops.

“More than 30 million people worldwide suffer from sporadic late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, yet the central question of what drives the cellular changes that lead to disease remains unanswered,” Dr Ooi said.

“The use of induced pluripotent stem cells generated from Alzheimer’s patients has provided an innovative way to model disease processes in human neurons in a dish.

“This has led to the possibility of modelling the chronology of events over the course of disease progression to develop an understanding of the molecular and cellular changes and for testing novel drugs.

“This research will position Australia at the forefront of this exciting field, improving the possibilities for personalised medicine and identifying risk factors for dementia to improve patient outcomes.”