ANU to host new Centre of Research Excellence

11 November 2015

ANU has won $2.5 million in the latest NHMRC funding round to host a new Centre of Research Excellence on Cognitive Health.

Centre leader Professor Kaarin Anstey said the new centre would bring leading researchers, clinicians, policy-makers and consumers together to focus on cognitive health promotion and prevention of cognitive decline.

"Through collaboration with universities around Australia and internationally we can achieve a lot more than we can on our own," Professor Anstey said.

Cognitive health is the ability to think, learn and remember, and process information. The Centre will identify risk factors, conduct intervention studies to improve cognitive function, and develop guidelines and modelling for new policies.

In Australia, poor cognitive health impacts on approximately one in five adults aged over 70, excluding those who have dementia.

Cognitive abilities can be modified through lifestyle. Common chronic diseases such as diabetes and risk factors such as smoking and leading a sedentary lifestyle can reduce cognitive function and increase risk of cognitive decline.

"The funding will allow us to conduct trials of interventions in general practice and in the community, and to train the next generation of researchers in this emerging field." Professor Anstey said.

The Centre will be hosted by ANU Research School of Population Health and sit within ANU Centre for Research on Ageing, Health and Wellbeing.

The new centre will have a second major site at the University of Melbourne Department of Psychiatry, led by Professor Nicola Lautenschlager, and will also include leading researchers from the University of New South Wales, Exeter University UK, Deakin University and the Baker International Diabetes Institute.  

In the latest round of NHMRC funding Professor Anstey received a NHMRC Principal Research Fellowship for cognitive health, one of seven fellowships awarded to ANU.

ANU acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Harding said the new centre highlighted the University's national leadership.

"The Centre of Research Excellence is a great example of ANU taking the lead as a resource for the nation and helping to find solutions to the problems facing Australia's ageing population," Professor Harding said.

"On behalf of the University, I congratulate Professor Anstey and her research team on their success, as reward for producing high quality research over a number of years."