'Meet Our Researcher' - Dr Louise Mewton

01 Apr 2019

CHeBA Blog: 'Meet Our Researcher' - Dr Louise Mewton

HEIDI DOUGLASS | h.douglass@unsw.edu.au

CHeBA’s focus on global research priorities, as well as its multi-disciplinary approach across prevention, epidemiology, internet-based intervention and neuropsychiatry, is what inspired Dr Louise Mewton to join CHeBA.

Dr Mewton is a UNSW Scientia Fellow with a research focus on the application of innovative methods, techniques and technologies to understand and prevent problematic alcohol use across the lifespan.

“I’m currently using large-scale harmonised data from CHeBA’s COSMIC studies to investigate trajectories of alcohol use in older adults and their relationship with physical health and cognition,” said Dr Mewton.

“We know that alcohol use is an increasing, but often hidden problem, amongst older adults.”

Dr Louise Mewton, UNSW Scientia Fellow

“Not enough research has focused on the harms associated with alcohol use in those aged over sixty”.

The COSMIC consortium, which has brought together 37 studies of cognitive ageing across 6 continents, is funded by The Dementia Momentum® initiative; which brings together researchers and the philanthropic community to invest in social change. The COSMIC consortium now has a combined sample size of over 115,000 individuals with the aim of facilitating a better understanding of the determinants of cognitive ageing and neurocognitive disorders.

“My research also focuses on improving the assessment of alcohol use and related harms, as well as the development and implementation of internet-delivered alcohol prevention programs across the lifespan.”

Since starting in January, Dr Mewton said that she has been so impressed by the breadth of research being undertaken at CHeBA. She has started receiving COSMIC data from studies around the world and applied for funding to adapt an online prevention for low risk drinking in older adults.

Dr Mewton is also interested in improving the classification and diagnosis of both mental illness and substance use.

“There is such a strong relationship between mental health and substance use disorders – these need to be considered together, rather than separately,” she said.

“I’m also keen to investigate the neurobiological and cognitive effects of alcohol use in older Australians,” she said.

“We’re getting a good handle on how alcohol effects the developing adolescent brain, but research also needs to focus on the effects of alcohol on cognitive decline and dementia, issues of huge importance to older Australians.”

Dr Mewton completed her PhD in 2012 at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Sydney. She was then appointed Statistical Advisor and Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety and Depression, UNSW. She received an Australian Rotary Health Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2014 to investigate the effectiveness of online cognitive training for the prevention of mental illness and risky alcohol use. In her spare time, Dr Mewton enjoys running (usually chasing after her 1-year old and 4-year old) and baking.

Dr Mewton is funded by a UNSW Sydney Scientia Fellowship.