In pursuit of its objective to support medical research designed to find solutions to the disabilities of ageing, during 2019, Colonial Foundation committed to fund $15 million to Walter and Eliza Hall Research Institute over 5 years.

The grant will enable a new research program – led by researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and The Royal Melbourne Hospital – to develop new diagnostic tests for the early detection of dementia.

Dementia is a major health challenge in Australia. In 2016, one in 10 people aged over 65 were diagnosed with the condition. Without breakthroughs in diagnostics and therapies, the number of dementia patients is expected to more than double by 2050. Early detection of the disease is crucial because by the time symptoms occur, most of the damage cannot be reversed.

The program of research will take place within the newly established Colonial Foundation Healthy Ageing Centre located at the Institute in the heart of the world-renowned Melbourne Biomedical Precinct.

The new Centre will enable leading clinicians, pathologists and researchers to come together with the goal of developing diagnostic tests for the early detection of neurodegenerative conditions that could cause dementia in people as young as 40.

The research team, led by Associate Professor Andrew Webb, will establish a biological model for healthy ageing and profile the molecular information of more than 20,000 patients recruited to the study. They hope to provide doctors across Australia with accredited tools and tests that make a positive difference to the quality of life for patients and their loved ones.