Improving the outlook for dementia

Improving the outlook for dementia

Illuminate newsletter header, summer 22-23
December 2022
Associate Professor Nawaf Yassi and Associate Professor Rosie Watson are joint laboratory heads at WEHI who are taking a multi-disciplinary approach to improving the outlook for people with dementia.

Photograph of researchers Rosie Watson and Nawaf Yassi in WEHI's galleria
WEHI dementia researchers Associate Professor
Rosie Watson and Associate Professor Nawaf Yassi.

Their work involves clinicians from different health disciplines, building on cutting-edge blood biomarker technology at WEHI, and collaborating with research experts in proteomics, cell biology and drug discovery.

The research focuses on understanding and detecting brain changes that occur in the early stages of dementia in order to develop new diagnostic tests, enabling people to access the best available treatments sooner.

One of the aims is to discover new genetic clues behind the different causes of dementia and other neurodegenerative disorders, at the same time as supporting collaborative and multi-disciplinary clinical groups to understand and untangle the overlap of the different causes of dementia.

The research team is also working towards discovering new medicines that could potentially halt or even reverse the progression of dementia and conditions that lead to dementia, including Parkinson’s disease. Clinical trials to test new potential therapies for dementia are currently underway.

The Watson-Yassi Lab’s long-term goals are to:

  • improve early and accurate diagnosis of dementia using blood tests
  • understand the overlap between dementia subtypes and how this impacts symptoms, diagnosis and treatment
  • understand and address important dementia risk factors
  • develop clinical trials for people with dementia that are accessible to a larger number of people, including those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • inform and improve models of care for people with dementia
  • support the next generation of clinician researchers in dementia, through education and mentorship.
To support WEHI's mission to improve the lives of thousands of Australians living with dementia, visit or phone 03 9345 2403.
Super Content: 
Side-by-side images of Cherie Chiang and Andrew Webb

WEHI’s Associate Professor Andrew Webb and the Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Associate Professor Cherie Chiang are developing an early diagnosis test for dementia at the Colonial Foundation Healthy Ageing Centre.

Professor Doug Hilton and Professor Christine Kilpatrick

The grant will enable a new research program – led by researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and The Royal Melbourne Hospital – to develop diagnostic tests for the early detection of dementia in people as young as 40.

Researcher facing news media crews

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Research team in a lab

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