19 January 2010

UQ and Alzheimer's Australia (Qld) will work together to reduce the impact of dementia after signing a new Memorandum of Understanding recently.

The University and the peak body will collaborate on a range of initiatives including joint research and consultancy projects, the development of student internships and placements, co-hosting of workshops and seminars and opportunities for research higher degree students.

UQ's commitment to ageing-related issues has also been strengthened with the establishment of the Ageing Mind Initiative co-directed by Associate Professors Nancy Pachana (School of Psychology) and Gerard Byrne (School of Medicine).

"Alzheimer's Australia has had an enormous impact on persons with dementia and their families," Dr Byrne said.

"It has sponsored expert reports on the epidemiology of dementia in this country, funds services for people with dementia around the country and funds research grants and scholarships to investigate all aspects of dementia. It is a privilege to be involved in this new enterprise with them."

Associate Professor Pachana said the MOU formalised a strong partnership that has existed for the past five years, offering new opportunities for students and researchers alike.

"We're looking forward to expanding our current relationship and creating new opportunities such as student placements as well as summer scholarship projects. Alzheimer's Australia (Qld) represents an untapped resource for a wide range of students across our faculties and institutes. This will encourage and support the next generation of researchers and clinicians to consider a focus on ageing and dementia as exciting career choices."

Chief Executive Officer of Alzheimer's Australia (Qld) Jan Samuels said the collaboration was an important milestone in the organisation's development.

"There are already more than 45,000 Queenslanders living with dementia and the number is expected to reach more than one million nationally by 2050. There is an urgent need for more research, supported by engaged, informed health professionals and service providers, if we are to address the enormous challenges ahead.

"This collaboration is a very practical example of UQ's strategic focus on learning, discovery and engagement, as well as building on the existing links between Queensland's experts on dementia and ageing.

"Together we will be able to increase awareness and understanding of dementia among tomorrow's leaders while working to achieve Alzheimer's Australia (Qld)'s own mission, which is to reduce the impact of dementia on the community."

Media: Associate Professor Nancy Pachana (07 3365 6230), Associate Professor Gerard Byrne on (07 3309 1120) or Melinda Kopanakis (07 3365 8820, m.kopanakis@uq.edu.au)