Dementia & Neuro Mental Health Research Unit

About

Group Head: Associate Professor Nadeeka Dissanayaka

The Dementia and Neuro Mental Health Research Unit, led by Associate Professor Nadeeka Dissanayaka, facilitates a pipeline of clinical research programs focusing on finding better treatments, improving quality of life and quality of care for those afflicted by incurable, progressive brain diseases, as well as their families.

Age-related progressive neurodegenerative diseases have an increasing social and economic impact due to growth in Australia’s ageing population. Dementia and Parkinson’s disease are the two most common neurodegenerative conditions observed in later life.

There are over 410,000 Australians currently diagnosed with dementia and over 80,000 Australians diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. By 2025 the number of people with dementia or Parkinson’s disease is estimated to double and by 2050, this number is projected to reach over 1 million. At present, over half of Australians in residential aged care facilities have dementia. Estimates suggest that Australians spend $14.6 billion annually on dementia and $9.9 billion on Parkinson’s disease.

Our vision is to improve health outcomes for people living with dementia and Parkinson’s disease, and their carer partners.

Our multidisciplinary collaborative team include:

  • Neuroscientists (cognitive neurosciences and signal processing experts)
  • Digital Health Experts (information technology, data science, and software engineering)
  • Medical Officers (Neurologists, Psychiatrists, and Geriatricians)
  • Allied Health Professionals (Clinical Psychologists, Neuropsychologists, Speech Pathologists, and Physiotherapists).

We use brain imaging techniques such as functional MRI (fMRI) and EEG to identify mechanisms and markers for early detection, and prevention, and to accelerate the discovery of new therapeutics. Our group specialises in technological personalised medicine approaches for effective delivery of interventions, and we conduct clinical trials.

Our specialised health areas:

  • Cognitive impairment & dementia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Behaviours of concern and psychological symptoms in dementia
  • Neuropsychiatric manifestations in Parkinson’s disease
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Delirium

Research techniques

  1. Neuroimaging
  2. Clinical trials
  3. Drug repurposing pharmacological trials
  4. Psychotherapy clinical trials
  5. Digital technologies, Artificial intelligence, Virtual reality, and Telehealth
  6. Development and validation of neuropsychological tools
  7. Development of aged care industry specific benchmarking tools

Our strategic framework is supported by established partnerships with national and international public and private health care providers, residential aged care industry, software industry, and community and philanthropic organisations.

We have an established Consumer and Community Involvement Group supporting our research.

Contact

+61 7 3346 6026

n.dissanayaka@uq.edu.au

Group Leader

Staff

Research Fellows

  • Dr Peter Worthy

    Postdoctoral Research Fellow
    UQ Centre for Clinical Research
    Postdoctoral Research Fellow
    School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
  • Deborah Brooks

    Dr Deborah Brooks

    Postdoctoral Research Fellow
    UQ Centre for Clinical Research
  • Dr Syed Afroz Keramat

    Dr Syed Afroz Keramat

    Postdoctoral Research Fellow
    UQ Centre for Clinical Research

Higher Degree Research Students

Community involvement is a significant component of our research. We welcome persons living with dementia, Parkinson’s disease, their families, and residential aged care staff to become involved with our research program. This can include:

  • Engaging with our research community advisory teams
  • Getting directly involved with research protocol development
  • Participating in community focus group discussions.

Our program is based in Brisbane, but through our expertise in telehealth the program is open to everyone, irrespective of where you live.

Contact us on 07 3346 5577 or n.dissanayaka@uq.edu.au.

 

Contact Nicole Zanyat (n.zanyat@uq.edu.au) on 0448 413 157 to make a donation to our research.

Alternatively, click on the button below. 

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How VR technology is reducing psychological problems in older people

Treating anxiety and depression in Parkinson's and dementia patients