VCD-CRE Research

Brain Scan

The core aims of the VCD-CRE are to:

  • bring together leading researchers in the fields of cerebrovascular disease and dementia, nationally and internationally;
  • address the most important issues relating to the analytical epidemiology of Vascular Cognitive Impairment and Dementia (VCID), its robust biomarkers, and its treatment and prevention, so as to reduce its overall health burden; and
  • place VCID research at the forefront of dementia research alongside that of Alzheimer’s disease.

The work of the VCD-CRE can be divided into the following areas:

1.    Diagnostic criteria for VCID


  1. To update the 2014 VASCOG criteria in view of recent developments in the field, involving international experts and a Delphi consensus process. 
  2. To harmonise the neurocognitive assessment batteries for VCID to be used for screening, clinical diagnosis, and outcome of interventions in Australia and internationally. A neuropsychological norming tool will be developed for ease of use of these batteries. 
  3. To validate computerised and online neuropsychological batteries for application to VCID. 

Projects: Harmonisation of diagnosis and assessment of VCD

2.    Analytical epidemiology of VCID: expansion of the STROKOG consortium


  1. To identify risk and protective factors for VCID across geographical regions and ethnic groups such that strategies for prevention can be developed based on a strong evidence base in a personalised and precision medicine approach. 
  2. To harness current and future cohorts and trials focused on vascular risk factors in any discipline (neurology, cardiology, renal medicine, endocrinology) for VCID research by including cognitive measures as secondary outcome measures. The data from trials will complement the evidence from cohort studies and place the evidence on a stronger footing for prevention.

Projects: STROKOG

3.    Biomarkers of VCID


  1. To identify, validate and demonstrate the research and clinical utility of biomarkers of VCID, especially small vessel disease contributing to cognitive impairment and dementia.
  2. To facilitate the adoption of biomarkers for diagnosis in clinical practice and research, and as outcome measures in intervention studies.

Projects: Vascular Cognitive Impairment (VCI) Study 
Analysis of blood, cerebrospinal fluid, brain scans and retinal images from studies of Vascular Cognitive Impairment and Dementia (VCID). 

4.    Genetics of VCID 


  1. To identify families with monogenic forms of VCID as models for the study of clinical manifestations and pathomechanisms of VCID. 
  2. To identify the genetic underpinnings of SVD and VCID using large-scale collaborative genome wide association studies (GWAS) and/or whole genome sequencing (WGS).

Projects: AusCADASIL 
Contributions to Consortia including ISGC, BRIDGET, CHARGE, ENIGMA

5.    Interventions for the prevention and treatment of VCID


  1. To develop novel strategies for the prevention of cognitive decline in individuals with, or those at risk of, cerebrovascular disease. 
  2. To develop novel strategies for the prevention of cerebrovascular disease, and thereby VCID. 

The VCD-CRE supports the education and development of students in a range of projects related to VCID. The following PhD students are supported by, or work in conjunction with, the VCD-CRE: 

  • Dr Gurpreet Kaur Hansra: Molecular blood biomarkers for the diagnosis and prognosis of vascular cognitive disorders
  • Dr Jess Lo: Vascular risk factors for cognitive impairment and dementia
  • Dr Ashley Park: Imaging and cognitive determinants of post-stroke outcome
  • Dr Matthew Lennon: Blood pressure, antihypertensive use and dementia risk – An international harmonisation of longitudinal studies
  • Dr Louise Goodall: Cardiometabolic contributors to brain aging
  • Dr Shizuka Hayashi: Enlarged perivascular spaces in the ageing brain, automated detection using deep learning, and analysis of their association with vascular risk factors
  • Dr Keshuo Lin: Poststroke white matter hyperintensity, its progression, relationships with cognitive change
  • Dr Mai-Phong Ho: Investigation of individual heterogeneity in brain changes in relation to cerebrovascular risk factors, using deep learning
  • Nikita Keshena Husein: Investigation of neuroimaging cerebrovascular markers of different ethnic groups.