Progressive research is offering new hope across all ages
The most important investment in our country, from both a social and economic perspective, is in the well-being of its citizens through health and medical research.
Tackling the growing impact of mental illness is imperative, and given our ageing population, the neurodegenerative conditions mean that over 350,000 Australians are living with dementia. This requires a sustained and comprehensive commitment from government, industry and philanthropy to underpin research to conquer and cure these disorders.
At NeuRA, to continue achieving progress in our research, we need to expand our facilities. A $10 million grant from NSW Health, to match a generous donation from philanthropist Margarete Ainsworth, has been instrumental in funding the completion of the fit-out of the Margarete Ainsworth Building. Laboratories and offices for the Sydney Brain Bank and our dementia and Parkinson’s research teams have been constructed. New offices for our dementia clinical researchers, basement levels providing a state-of-the-art gait laboratory for falls and movement studies, a new crash laboratory for injury prevention research, and dedicated storage for up to 2500 samples from the Sydney Brain Bank are all under way.
To combat the impact of illness, researchers worldwide must develop medical innovations based on sound scientific evidence. Clinical trials are key to improving the treatment of a particular disease or validating biomarkers to improve diagnosis. NeuRA has a number of clinical trials in place. Our participation in the international Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network (DIAN) prevention trial is groundbreaking because the identification of a successful drug has the potential to be effective in preventing Alzheimer’s disease in later life.
NeuRA recently merged with the Schizophrenia Research Institute. This has been a positive step for both organisations as we expedite translation of discoveries to benefit those living with schizophrenia. The Cognitive and Affective Symptoms in Schizophrenia Intervention (CASSI) trial verified that a drug that acts on estrogen hormone receptors in the brain reduces symptoms and improves cognition. Through the establishment of our Schizophrenia Research Council, we look forward to a stronger engagement with carers and consumers for input to enhance our research strategies.
At NeuRA, we are committed to supporting the next generation of scientists and our young researchers are encouraged to expand their boundaries early in their careers and embrace diversity in their research. Our significant achievements are a direct result of the dedication of our talented team of researchers who share a passion for delivering better health outcomes by translating breakthroughs into clinical practice.
Medical research has become an increasingly global endeavour and NeuRA plays a major role developing scientific expertise and building research capacity as we continue to find new ways to cure disease, alleviate suffering, and prevent illness.
Professor Peter R Schofield is Executive Director and CEO of NeuRA (Neuroscience Research Australia)