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NHMRC announces dementia research budget

Plans include grants, campaign to attract talent from other fields. 

The NHMRC has unveiled plans for how the $200 million Boosting Dementia Research budget measure will be spent.

This includes the opening of the new Dementia Research Grants Scheme, worth $32.5 million. The plan, modelled on NHMRC’s Centres of Research Excellence, is expected to fund up to five teams of researchers at $6.5 million per team, for five years.

Peter Dutton, minister for health, confirmed in a statement that the grants would support research into causes of dementia, prevention and early diagnosis, new treatment options and ways to improve quality of life for patients and carers.

“Our understanding of how to diagnose and treat cancer has made great progress over the last few decades, but the same cannot be said for dementia,” Dutton said. “To alleviate the haunting threat of dementia, we need to be able to answer the big questions about prevention, cures and care.”

The plans for the other $167.5 million have also been outlined, with $62.5 million dedicated to supporting large-scale research projects, $9 million to go the Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research and another $46 million set aside for grants to attract researchers from other fields into dementia research.

The remaining $50 million will be used to target, co-ordinate and translate research through the new NHMRC National Institute for Dementia Research.

NHMRC CEO professor Warwick Anderson said the institute would help ensure that the work being done here in Australia is relevant, and “complements that being done elsewhere around the world”. He confirmed that planning for the institute is under way.

“This new virtual institute will draw together Australia’s outstanding researchers in dementia research, to bring a broad, collaborative approach to the highest priority research and translation question in dementia,” Anderson said. “In a recent forum with key stakeholders, we made a commitment to the Australian people to ensure that this significant research investment would make a lasting difference in the prevention, treatment and management of dementia. I believe that this work plan will achieve that.’

Alzheimer’s Australia national president Graeme Samuel, who welcomed the announcement, said the group looked forward to seeing the outcomes of this call for applications.

“[We] will continue to work with the NHMRC to ensure that consumers are centrally involved in the new activities, and that the research reflects their priorities and concerns,” Samuel said.

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