Dr Karen Mather receives Yulgilbar Foundation post-doctoral excellence award

Image - Dr Karen Mather receives Yulgilbar Foundation post-doctoral excellence award

Leader of CHeBA's Genetics and Genomics group, researcher Dr Karen Mather, has received a $20,000 post-doctoral excellence award from the Yulgilbar Foundation, as part of a $10 million philanthropic initiative to find a cure Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr Mather’s research project looks at the biological determinants of an early symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss.  Using identical twins from CHeBA's Older Australian Twins Study, this research aims to identify RNA differences between co-twins who differ in their performance on memory tests.  RNA is one of the three major macromolecules (along with DNA and proteins) that are essential for life.  RNA carries information from DNA, the genetic blueprint, to form proteins and perform other functions in the cell and the body, and is therefore a very important but less well understood part of the puzzle in understanding memory impairment and dementia.  This study has the potential to increase understanding of the early development of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease and ultimately may suggest novel diagnostic, prognostic and treatment strategies. 

The Yulgilbar Foundation, established by Sarah and Baillieu Myer through the Myer Family Company, provides funding to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and, to date, has awarded five post-doctoral excellence awards to top-up the salaries of young researchers who are working to cure, prevent or slow down the advancement of Alzheimer’s.

“If we attract and support the new blood into Alzheimer’s laboratories we may fast-track the new ideas and left-of field innovation that often leads to a breakthrough,” said international advisor to Yulgilbar, Dame Bridget Ogilvie.

The Yulgilbar Foundation have called for donations from other philantanthropists, pledging to match any donations received. “We think that this is a great opportunity for private philanthropy to value-add to the government program by bringing the innovation and young minds into the mix,” said Bailleu Myer.

Approximately 332,000 Australians have Alzheimer’s disease and that figure is expected to triple by 2050.

CHeBA Co-Directors, Professors Perminder Sachdev and Henry Brodaty, expressed their gratitude to Yulgilbar Foundation for their generous support of Dr Mather. 

"With funding for dementia research grossly underfunded when its prevalence and disease burden are taken into account, it is extremely promising to see such a push for philanthropic funding in this area by the Myer Family Company.  We hope it encourages other philanthropists to recognise the importance of supporting CHeBA's research into age-related cognitive disorders," said Professor Perminder Sachdev.

Date Published: 
Monday, 1 September 2014
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