About

Dementia & Neuro Mental Health Unit, led by Dr Nadeeka Dissanayaka, facilitates a pipeline of clinical research programs to meet the increasing demands of our growing ageing population and age-related progressive brain diseases such as Dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

Our focus is to find better treatment, and improve quality of life and quality of care for those afflicted by incurable brain diseases, and their families.

Dementia and Parkinson’s disease are the two most common brain diseases observed in late life. Unfortunately, at present, there is no cure for such progressive diseases predominantly observed in older Australians. Dementia is the second leading cause of deaths in Australians. There are over 410,000 Australians currently suffering from dementia and over 80,000 Australian suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Everyday, around 244 Australians are diagnosed with dementia and 32 Aussies are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. With our increase in the ageing population, an exponential growth in dementia and Parkinson’s disease is expected within the next few years. By 2025 number of people with dementia and 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 annually spend $14.6 billion on dementia and $9.9 billion on Parkinson’s disease. These incurable brain diseases result in significant burden to individuals, their family members and to the society.

Our vision is to improve mental health outcomes for older Australians suffering from dementia and Parkinson’s disease, and their carers. Mental illnesses are the largest single cause of disability in Australia and costs $56.7billion annually. Depression and anxiety are common, but are poorly recognised and under treated in dementia and Parkinson’s disease. Carers of patients with such diseases also suffer from significant psychological distress, which must be recognised and treated.

Our cutting-edge program of research consists:

Neuroimaging: Brain imaging to identify mechanisms and markers for early recognition, prevention and accelerate discovery of new treatment for dementia and Parkinson’s disease

Clinical trials: New therapeutics and psychological interventions for improved management of dementia and Parkinson’s disease

We use neuroimaging techniques such as fMRI and EEG, technological personalised medicine approaches, and conduct clinical trials. Our multidisciplinary collaborative team includes Neuroscientists (cognitive neurosciences and signal processing experts), Digital Health Experts (information technology, data science, and software engineering), Medical Officers (Neurologists, Psychiatrists, and Geriatricians), and Allied Health Professionals (Clinical Psychologists, Neuropsychologists, Speech Pathologists, and Physiotherapists). Our strategic framework is supported by established partnerships with national and international public and private health care providers, and the Residential Aged Care industry.

Contact

+61 7 3346 6026

n.dissanayaka@uq.edu.au