Dementia is a term used to describe chronic and progressive decline in memory and other thinking skills, and the associated impacts on people’s ability to function. It can result from a number of neurodegenerative conditions, the most common being Alzheimer’s disease.


Dementia is currently incurable, and its underlying cause are challenging to diagnose, particularly at early stages.

In Australia, more than 440,000 people – mostly older individuals – have dementia. It is predicted to soon become the leading cause of death in Australia. This condition also has a huge social and economic burden on our community, with people with dementia being unable to work and requiring ongoing assistance and support.

Associate Proffesor Rosie Watson and Dr Nawaf Yassi
Above: Associate Professors Rosie Watson (L) and Nawaf Yassi (R) are developing a blood test to distinguish between different types of dementia

Our dementia research

We are taking a multi-disciplinary approach to improving the outlook for people with dementia, involving clinicians from different medical disciplines, as well as experts in proteomics, cell biology and drug discovery.

Specific areas of focus for our dementia research are:

  • Understanding and detecting the brain changes that occur in the early stages of dementia, to develop new diagnostic tests, that could allow people to access the best available treatments sooner.
  • Discovering new genetic clues behind the different causes of dementia and other neurodegenerative disorders.
  • Supporting collaborative and multidisciplinary clinical cohorts in dementia to understand and untangle the overlap of the different causes of dementia
  • Using knowledge of the causes to discover new medicines that could potentially halt or even reverse the progression of dementia and conditions that lead to dementia, including Parkinson’s disease.
  • Leading investigator-initiated clinical trials to test new potential therapies for dementia.

Our dementia research has been boosted by the establishment of the Colonial Foundation Healthy Ageing Centre, a collaboration with The Royal Melbourne Hospital.


Above: Associate Professor Andrew Webb jointly leads the Colonial Foundation Healthy Ageing Centre, which aims to develop diagnostic tests for the early detection of dementia
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