Yvonne Leung joins CHeBA as ICC-Dementia Study Co-ordinator

14 Aug 2017

Yvonne Leung joins CHeBA as ICC-Dementia Study Co-ordinator

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

CHeBA post-doctoral research fellow Yvonne Leung brings experience in computer programming, experimental design and data analysis to her new role as study co-ordinator on the International Consortium of Centenarian studies of dementia  (ICC-Dementia consortium).

“With a background in social work, psychology and interdisciplinary research on human-machine interaction, I look forward to contributing a different skill-set to ICC-Dementia to gain insights into healthy ageing and dementia in centenarian populations,” said Ms Leung.

ICC-Dementia combines international centenarian and near-centenarian studies to describe the cognitive and functional profiles of exceptionally old individuals. CHeBA researchers are systematically exploring the risk and protective factors involved in dementia and longevity, as well as providing real-life models of healthy brain ageing to develop strategies for escaping or delaying the onset of dementia.

Four new studies from Portugal, Japan, New York and Germany recently joined ICC-Dementia, and collaborators met in California in July to finalise the first data findings from the study for publication later this year.  The consortium now comprises 17 studies, which included a total of 5,363 participants from 11 countries.

Currently, Ms Leung is conducting statistical analysis on studies contributed by international collaborators to estimate the prevalence of dementia in centenarians globally. Data mining is involved which seeks to discover patterns and anomalies in large data sets using interdisciplinary methods from the fields of statistics, machine learning and database systems.

“The greatest strength of ICC-Dementia research is that it is very applicable and closely related to people’s lives,” said Ms Leung. “Our research seeks to inform clinical intervention and health policies, which would potentially improve quality of life for all Australians in the long-term, as well as diagnosis of the dementias in the centenarian population in the shorter term.”

Ms Leung is encouraged by experiences of positive brain ageing in her family, with her grandparents and great-grandparents enjoying good physical and mental health into late life.

“Ultimately, I am optimistic that the general population will be proactive about sourcing information to improve their cognitive ageing, once it is made available,” said Ms Leung. “To facilitate this, we need strong resource allocation and support from government and corporate philanthropists.”

Ms Leung holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honours from the MARCS Institute for Brain Behaviour and Development and a Master of Arts from the University of Sheffield, UK. Her PhD thesis investigating the learning of novel music systems is currently under examination.

Yvonne Leung is funded by The Dementia Momentum, CHeBA’s major philanthropic initiative to bring researchers and the corporate and philanthropic community together to change the future of dementia incidence.