Prof Chris Rowe to be Chief Investigator for Australian Dementia Network

Neurodegenerative disorders

By Michael Woodhead

5 Jul 2018

Prof Rowe

Victorian neuroscience researcher Professor Chris Rowe has been appointed Chief Investigator for the Federal government’s new Australian Dementia Network (ADNet).

The initiative, with funding of $18 million over five years from the NHMRC, aims to foster dementia research co-operation, clinical trials recruitment and also better patient care through memory clinics.

Speaking at the launch of the initiative on 2 July, Professor Rowe, who is Austin Health’s Director of Molecular Imaging Research, said the funding for ADNet “means better access to advanced diagnostic methods nationwide and faster development of effective therapies to prevent and treat dementia.”

A statement released by the NHMRC said ADNet will have six core aims:

  1. Establish an integrated network of dementia researchers, clinicians, service providers, industry, and consumers to drive this priority national translational research initiative.
  2. Develop and maintain ADNeT-Registry, a clinical quality registry (CQR) that can track, benchmark and report on the quality of clinical care of people with dementia and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to drive quality improvement, identify suitable and willing persons for clinical trials, and systematically collect longitudinal data for research on the determinants, epidemiology and trajectory of cognitive decline.
  3. Establish a national network of Memory Clinics to optimise the assessment of cognitive disorders and improve specialist access for all Australians.
  4. Develop a large, highly-characterised cohort of people with dementia, or at increased risk of dementia, to populate a Trials-Ready Cohort for participation in cutting-edge clinical trials and to study the natural history of dementia.
  5. Connect with existing infrastructure supporting clinical trials in Australia to enhance the capacity for state-of-the-art assessments and the conduct of clinical trials nationwide.
  6. Integrate Australian research with the international effort to prevent or effectively treat dementia.

Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt AM said ADNet will drive research and deliver improvements through five core teams – Registry, Clinics, Trials, Technology and Business – with close links to leading international programs in Europe and the USA.

“Through ADNeT, Australia joins the international push to use large-scale national registries to expedite research and beat dementia,” he said.

“ADNeT means Australia will be a strong contributor to, and an early beneficiary of, the worldwide search for dementia treatments and cures,” the Minister added.

Professor Rowe was congratulated on his appointment by Austin Health CEO Sue Shilbury, who said he was a world-leader in the field of imaging Alzheimer’s disease.

“He introduced amyloid PET imaging into Australia in 2004 and he and his team at Austin Health apply state-of-the-art neuroimaging technology to develop new tests and biomarkers and support early intervention clinical trials in Alzheimer’s disease,” Ms Shilbury said.

Additional financial support to come from philanthropic organisations, industry, universities, research institutes and state governments is expected to more than double the Federal Government’s contribution, to a total of $40 million.

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