Run by UNSW Sydney’s Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA), DPAU will work in collaboration with DPUK towards the collective aim of accelerating discoveries in the understanding and diagnosis of dementia. The partnership will support new insights into ageing, age-related diseases and risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
Professor John Gallacher, Director of DPUK, said: ‘It’s hugely exciting to see how the dementia research community in Australia is thriving. The close partnership between DPUK and DPAU will enable us to share technical assets and best practice, and to facilitate international data analysis. Science is data-driven, and we can help accelerate progress in dementia research by working together at a global level to improve data access.’
Professor Perminder Sachdev, Co-Director of CHeBA, added: ‘The aim is to transform the study and determinants of ageing and dementia and make it truly global.’
The challenges posed by dementia are complex. Addressing them requires many smaller pieces of a puzzle to come together to increase our understanding of brain function and of the risks that genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors pose to healthy brain ageing. While the contribution of one research participant, one researcher or one study is often modest, the ability to combine data across many studies has a potential not yet fully realised.
The DPAU platform, which uses secure technology deployed at Monash University, will house data on physical and brain health from studies conducted around the world. DPAU will complement DPUK and other satellite dementias platforms, forming a network.
Dr Vibeke Catts, Research Manager at CHeBA and DPAU’s project leader, described how dementia research will be reshaped through the hosting of data from international longitudinal and cross-sectional studies of brain ageing. She said: ‘The impact that health and medical research has on society cannot be underestimated.
‘DPAU allows for critical information about disease trends and risk factors, outcomes of treatment or public health interventions, as well as methods of care and associated costs. Through DPAU and our partnership with DPUK, we will be able to securely share and analyse all research data – including such factors as genomics and medical imaging.’
Initially, DPAU will launch with data from one of CHeBA’s main consortia – Cohort Studies of Memory in an International Consortium (COSMIC) – comprising 44 cohort studies from 33 countries and involving more than 150,000 individual research participants. DPAU will also host the data governed by the CHeBA Research Bank, including its Memory and Ageing Study, Sydney Centenarian Study, and the Older Australian Twins Study.
Data from these studies represents the work of CHeBA researchers funded by eight grants from Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council over the past 13 years, and has already formed the basis of over 250 research publications.
‘Making the data available via DPAU will ensure that the generous contribution of time given by CHeBA research participants will continue to yield new clues to the causes of dementia well into the future,’ added Dr Catts.