29 March 2023

Three expert teams will share in $1.5 million of NHMRC-administered funding to undertake research with Japanese collaborators into causes of dementia and factors that may prevent or delay its onset. 

NHMRC and the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) have partnered to foster this collaborative research, which aims to increase our understanding of dementia and improve health outcomes for people living with the condition. AMED’s contribution will support collaborators in Japan. 

Dementia has overtaken coronary heart disease as the leading cause of disease burden among Australians aged 65 and over according to a February 2023 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report. As life expectancy continues to increase in both Australia and Japan, this funding addresses key challenges for our ageing populations. 

NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso AO said the NHMRC-AMED 2022 Collaborative Dementia Research Scheme grants would provide opportunities for Australia’s newest and brightest scientists to collaborate with researchers in Japan on the shared challenge of dementia. 

“Through NHMRC’s partnership with AMED and the work of the researchers funded through this announcement, we can build on Australia’s reputation as a global leader in dementia research,” Professor Kelso said. 

"The funding will support newly independent researchers to build international networks and develop long-term careers focusing on research in this critical area for our nation.”  

The Australian lead researchers for the three collaborative projects announced today are: 

  • Dr Chien-Hsiung (Alan) Yu, from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, who will work with collaborators from the University of Tokyo and Niigata University to investigate how tau protein build-up triggers neuron death in the brain and develop therapies for preventing this damaging protein cascade  
  • Dr Yijun Pan, also from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, who will work with collaborators from Tohoku University and the National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology in Japan to focus on accurate diagnosis, potential therapeutic targets and modifiable risk factors for patients living with vascular or frontotemporal dementia, with the goal to improve quality of life of people living with dementia 
  • Dr Quan Huynh, from the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, who will work with collaborators from Gunma University and Shinshu University to test the feasibility and effectiveness of an innovative model of care that will enable healthcare professionals to screen patients with cognitive impairment and heart failure, aiming to improve cognition and reduce the risk of dementia and cardiovascular events. 


The NHMRC-AMED 2022 Collaborative Dementia Research Scheme focuses on early career researchers and aims to improve understanding of the many potential causes of dementia and modifiable lifestyle risk and protective factors that may prevent or delay its onset. 

Between 2018 and 2022, NHMRC expended $303 million on dementia-related research. 

Applications listed in order of Application ID
Chief Investigator  Administering Institution  Title Budget ($) 
Dr Yijun Pan  University of Melbourne  Exploring biomarkers, therapeutic targets, and modifiable risk factors for non-Alzheimer's dementia  $499,807 
Dr Chien-Hsiung (Alan) Yu  University of Melbourne  Novel therapeutic strategies to intervene in tau-associated neurodegeneration by modulating tau clearance and neuroinflammation  $499,644 
Dr Quan Huynh  Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute  Reducing Cognitive impairment by management of Heart Failure as a Modifiable Risk Factor: the Cog-HF trial  $499,487 
Total      $1,498,938