Cogstate Ltd, a commercial enduser participant of the CRC, is increasing its contribution to the CRC by providing an industry PhD scholarship. Edith Drajkopyl will be supported by the scholarship to work on the project “Concussion in sport”.
Professor Paul Maruff, Cogstate’s Chief Scientific Officer, said “Concussions that occur in sports are important health issues; they have significant consequences for mental health and have even been linked to dementia. However, there has been very little systematic study of this injury. Edith is a talented young scientist and Cogstate has been actively involved in assisting sporting organisations with their concussion management programs. Our partnership with the CRC for Mental Health now provides an incredible foundation for Edith’s work to significant contributions to understanding this important issue.”
This scholarship adds to the substantial contribution Cogstate makes to the CRC’s education program, providing students with advice and guidance on cognitive testing, as well as access to the company’s cognitive tests.
For more information about Cogstate, visit cogstate.com
The CRC for Mental Health has been awarded a merit allocation of 3TB on the VicNode storage platform, the Victorian arm of the Research Data Storage Infrastructure (RDSI) project. This allocation will allow the CRC to easily store and securely share our schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease data collections.
The CRC’s Biobank collections will be stored on VicNode and accessed via the Mediaflux software platform. This streamlined design will enable efficient cross-project sharing of data and facilitate new collaborations with Australian and international researchers.
For more information about VicNode, please visit vicnode.org.au
Monday 16 June
6:30 – 8:00pm
The University Club of Western Australia
Entrance #1, Hackett Drive, Crawley
How does Australia’s aged care system benefit from the latest scientific research? What are the opportunities for the future?
James Lush from ABC Radio 720 Perth will host this panel discussion presented by the CRC for Mental Health. Bringing together researchers, clinicians, and aged care experts, the event will explore how scientific research can be embedded in the aged care system.
- Prof Ashley Bush (CRC for Mental Health)
- Prof Ralph Martins AO (McCusker Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, Edith Cowan University)
- W/Prof Assen Jablensky (University of Western Australia)
- Prof Fran McInerney (Mercy Health)
The event is free of charge, and all are welcome.
This event took place in June 2014. Information on the event is available here.
Date: May 2014
Dr Blaine Roberts has been awarded a prestigious international grant for his research into the validation of a developmental blood test for Alzheimer’s disease. The $140,000 Challenge Grant is awarded by the Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Initiative at the New York Academy of Sciences in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation. Dr Roberts’ will undertake the research at the Florey Institute for Neuroscience and Mental Health, in conjunction with the CRC for Mental Health.
Dr Roberts’ team has identified three plasma proteins with potential application as biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers will test the association of these proteins with amyloid plaques in the brain. They hope to develop a test that could diagnose Alzheimer’s disease 15 to 20 years before the appearance of symptoms. This would significantly reduce the cost of patient recruitment for clinical trials, and help identify potential therapies to treat those individuals who are most likely to progress to disease in the future.
For more information, please see Florey Institute news here.
Date: April 2014
In March 2014, the Australian Government asked the National Mental Health Commission to conduct a national Review of Mental Health Services and programmes. The terms of reference defined programmes and services as including prevention, early detection and treatment of mental illness.
The CRC for Mental Health made a submission emphasising the importance of research into mental illnesses. In particular, the submission reiterated the CRC’s support for the McKeon Review finding that Australia should “embed research in the health system.” We believe this shared learning between research, clinical practice and services has the potential to improve the effectiveness of how mental illnesses are treated.
The CRC’s submission also indicated the value of a collaborative approach to research into mental health, especially in “leveraging government investment with private sector investment, as well as embedding end-users in the research process.”
The Commission’s final review report will be provided to the Government by 30 November 2014, and will be available here.
Professor Brian Dean has accepted an appointment as Coordinator of the Psychosis Program for the CRC for Mental Health. Prof Dean has an outstanding record of achievement and leadership in the field of biological psychiatry and a track record of success in the translation of research discoveries into useful innovations in the field of clinical diagnostics. We look forward to the application of his talent and effort in this new role within the CRC.
Date: February 2014
Chief Scientific Officer Professor Ashley Bush appeared on ABC Radio 666 Canberra discussing recent research by the CRC for Mental Health into the link between anaemia and Alzheimer’s disease. The interview was hosted by Alex Sloan and in conversation with Professor Tony Peacock, CEO of the Cooperative Research Centre Association.
You can listen to the interview below.
Arcitecta and the CRC for Mental Health to improve the capture and management of data from clinical research
Date: 31 January 2014
Arcitecta, the company behind Mediaflux – the most flexible and comprehensive metadata management platform for complex, distributed data management – is developing a product to improve the capture and management of data from clinical research worldwide.
Using the Cooperative Research Centre for Mental Health’s real data from volunteers, Arcitecta will develop a new software product that will:
- enable clinicians to capture clinical data at the bedside, and in a form that is easily accessible to them and other non-expert IT users,
- easily import and export new and existing data,
- enable multiple research institutions to collaborate on multiple trials by allowing them to feed data into the repository for this new product, and,
- be open, allowing users to develop additional functions, as and when they need it.
Coverage in the press:
Capturing biomarker metadata for mental health research, PULSE+IT Magazine, 3 April 2014.
Date: 14 January 2014
CRC for Mental Health scientists have discovered a link between Alzheimer’s disease and anaemia, in a study which has the potential to improve the quality of life for people with these major diseases.
The study tested iron levels and related blood chemistry in over 1100 volunteers. The scientists compared results between groups who either had Alzheimer’s disease, had complaints about their memory and healthy volunteers. The scientists found that having Alzheimer’s disease caused a lowering of blood hemoglobin levels, and was a major risk factor for developing anaemia. It is already known that anaemia worsens cognitive decline.
“Alzheimer’s disease and anaemia are the two most common diagnoses in nursing homes, each diagnosis affecting more than half of nursing home residents” said Professor Ashley Bush, Chief Scientist at the CRC for Mental Health and professor at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health.
“Anaemia is a deficiency in red blood cells and can be caused by a variety of factors such as poor diet or blood loss. Older people more frequently develop a type of anaemia that cannot be treated by any available drugs or supplements. We’ve shown that Alzheimer’s disease may be the explanation for this treatment-resistant anaemia, as it is itself a new cause for anaemia that cannot be explained by these other factors.”
“Common symptoms of anaemia include concentration difficulties, fatigue and mood changes. So the research suggests that Alzheimer’s disease lowers hemoglobin and leads to an increased risk for anaemia, which in turn can be having an affect on memory, concentration and learning.”
The research provides a new insight into the mysterious treatment-resistant anaemia of old age.
“The treatment resistant ’idiopathic’ anaemia of old age responds poorly to iron and other supplements, and to other drugs that boost hemoglobin. If we can understand why people with Alzheimer’s disease develop this unexplained form of anaemia, we may be able to target treatments for both disorders,” said co-author Dr Noel Faux.
“We think treating the anaemia will improve general wellbeing including levels of energy, fatigue and potentially some slowing of cognitive decline. This could have an enormous impact on our handling of two major disorders of retirement age.”
The researchers used data from the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers and Lifestyle Study (AIBL), a longitudinal study which is following over 1100 volunteers aged 60 and over.
The results have been published in the prestigious journal Molecular Psychiatry. The full paper is available at http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/mp2013178a.html
The CRC for Mental Health was established to create impact. It commenced life with a bold vision for translating research into products and methods of practice that can drive transformational changes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses.
The CRC has made impressive progress towards these goals. For example, we have made discoveries that may prove to be the basis of a reliable blood test to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. Importantly, our findings point towards implementation using a relatively simple and robust apporach which could be rolled out in existing diagnostic laboratories. We look forward to reporting similar progress in our pursuit of biomarkers for other types of mental illnesses.
A critical aspect of our research is its use of data and biological materials collected from hundreds of volunteers, both affected and unaffected by mental illness. The CRC has benefited enormously from pre-existing biobanks such as the Australian Imaging, Biomarker and Lifestyle Study of Ageing (AIBL), the Geelong Health Study and the West Australian Family Study of Schizophrenia. We are developing our own schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease biobanks and working to ensure these resources endure well beyond the remaining five years of the CRC’s initial term of Commonwealth funding.
We have been fortunate to attract a group of very capable PhD students who along with our postdoctoral researchers have opportunities to interact broadly with the scientific community. We have conducted workshops to broaden their perspectives and foster a proactive apporach to career planning. Our research students have also met with people with mental illness and their carers – an interaction which greatly benefitted all parties.
We have continued to engage with our participants, stakeholders and the wider community. We have developed an education program for primary carers in the aged care system to assist them in understanding the causes and consequences of dementia. We have also conducted a number of highly successful community education events, most notably “Science and Dementia” held during National Science Week.
Next year is a critical time for the CRC. In early 2015, our performance will be reviewed by the Commonwealth. We must be able to demonstrate substantial progress towards creating impact from our research. We are on the verge of such success. Next year, we should drive some of our innovative technology into the commercial domain and involve at least one new commercial enduser organisation in our work. We should also expand our educational activities. Most importantly, we should be confident that our current participants can clearly identify the benefits the CRC has brought to them already, and those we will realise in the future.
The CRC’s successes to date are due to a large number of people across organisations, disciplines and geographic areas working collectively. I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all those in the CRC community for their hard work and enthusiasm this year.
Dr Ian Cooke, CEO CRC for Mental Health