Prevention and Management of Mental Disorders in Older Australians (Capacity Building Grant)

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Project Main Description: 

CHeBA’s Capacity Building Grant (CBG) is an NHMRC-funded project which aims to develop the careers of future research leaders for the prevention and management of mental disorders in older Australians, particularly age-related brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. With an ageing population, no definitive understanding of the cause, prevention or treatment of dementia as yet, and with the incidence of dementia anticipated to rise to almost one million in Australia by 2050, it is essential that junior staff are fully equipped to lead research in this field in the coming years.


This project aims to:

1.       Improve understanding of health, disease and well-being in older people living in the community, with a

          focus on the following six key areas:

i.        Optimising the use of epidemiological mental health data in the elderly;

ii.       Identifying at-risk individuals;

iii.      Establishing risk factors for cognitive ageing;

iv.      Positive and successful ageing;

v.       Preventing dementia and/or delaying its onset; and

vi.      New services for cognitively impaired older Australians.

2.       Find new evidence to inform policy and practice relating to the care of the elderly.

3.       Develop the careers of potential future research leaders in this area through mentoring and training.

Design and Method: 

Each researcher has 1 primary mentor, 1 secondary mentor and 1 or more additional mentors. Researchers undertake two reviews per year to assess performance and support/training needs, as well as attend targeted mentoring and training programs to support development of research and leadership skills. Researchers are supported to recruit and produce their own research group, develop an international research profile and obtain funding independently. They are set a range of milestones to achieve related to research output (such as publications and conference presentations), teaching, engagement with key stakeholders (including, as appropriate, government, industry, peak bodies, health-care workers, community members and funding bodies) and contribution to the professional community (including peer-review for journals and involvement in professional societies).


Since 2009, CHeBA’s CBG has supported 12 researchers with a range of specialities, including genetic epidemiology, proteomics, neuropsychology, classification and assessment of psychiatric disorders in the elderly, online treatment of geriatric anxiety and depression, aged care service delivery, cerebrovascular damage and cognition, successful ageing, protective factors for cognitive decline, falls, gait and dizziness. To date, they have been awarded more than $11 million in competitive grants, published more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and presented their findings at numerous international and national conferences. Their teaching activities have included supervising 28 higher degree research students and more than 50 honours and independent learning projects for the undergraduate medicine program, as well as contributing to a range of undergraduate and professional courses (including biomedical engineering, public health and psychology) and running training sessions for healthcare workers. Our researchers have generated wide media coverage for their work and run a number of public fora to present relevant findings to the community.

Key awards include:

Nady Braidy International College of Geriatric Psychopharmacology (ICGP) Junior Investigator Award, 2012

Simone Reppermund International College of Geriatric Psychopharmacology (ICGP) Junior Investigator Award, 2011

Nick Titov Gold Prize, Australian & New Zealand Mental Health Service Achievement Awards, 2010

Michael Valenzuela NSW Young Tall Poppy of the Year Award, Australian Institute of Policy & Science, 2009; NHMRC Excellence Award, 2010

Project Status: 
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