Dementia; younger onset dementia; Alzheimer's disease; frontotemporal dementia; successful ageing and wellbeing; positive psychology; happiness; neuropsychology.
Field of Research (FoR)
I am the Leader of the CHAMPION Team within the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at UNSW Australia and a descendant of the Kurial-Yuin saltwater people. The main aim of CHAMPION is to promote care and cognitive health in at-risk populations. My research spans diverse populations, including those with young onset dementia and their supporters, people with chronic drug and alcohol use, the homeless, the prison...view more
I am the Leader of the CHAMPION Team within the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at UNSW Australia and a descendant of the Kurial-Yuin saltwater people. The main aim of CHAMPION is to promote care and cognitive health in at-risk populations. My research spans diverse populations, including those with young onset dementia and their supporters, people with chronic drug and alcohol use, the homeless, the prison population, and those who have sustained a head injury or concussion. Identifying risk factors to enable early intervention and promote optimal care is at the forefront of this research.
Young onset dementia is when a person has an onset of memory loss and/or other cognitive problems prior to the age of 65. These symptoms may occur due to a range of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or frontotemporal dementia, or they may result from medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis or Huntington’s disease, or the long term effects of lifestyle factors such as alcohol misuse or sporting injuries. The numbers of people with young onset dementia seem to be increasing however there is little known about this group.
The INSPIRED Study, led by Professor Brian Draper and myself, is examining the prevalence of young onset dementia, the needs of this group, and we are determining a model of optimal service provision and care. This study is a collaboration between UNSW Sydney, the University of Sydney, and at the Prince of Wales, St Vincent’s, Sutherland and Port Kembla Hospitals. This is the largest Australian study of young onset dementia.
My other studies include examining the cognitive effects, assessment strategies and care needs of individuals with cognitive changes due to chronic drug and alcohol abuse. We have current funded studies to investigate the prevalence of substance abuse in older clients and its relationship to cognitive impairment, and also to investigate clinical and cognitive outcomes in long-term drug and alcohol clients.
I am also interested in the ways in which sporting injuries can lead to changes in memory and thinking and the relationships between concussion and other head injuries and young onset dementia (e.g. chronic traumatic encephalopathy).
I supervise ILP, Honours and postdoctoral students.
Broad Research Areas:
Psychiatry, Neuropsychology, Gerontology - Geriatrics, Clinical Research, Health Services Research, Population Health.
BSc (Hons) PhD
Specific Research Keywords:
Dementia, Ageing, Wellbeing, Health Services Research
My Research Supervision
Areas of supervision
Dementia, cognitive decline, ageing, risk factors, epidemiology, vulnerable populations, cognition, drug and alcohol, justice health, service provision, care, carer health
Current UNSW Postgraduate Students
Dr Neeraj Gill: Human rights of people with mental disabilities
Mr Mark Orr: Enhancing the mental health workforce: Acceptability and efficacy of on-line peer support for adults with a lived experience of a mental health issue.
Dr Mariam Soomro: Improving the surveillance, prediction and prevention of head injuries: potential applications of novel technology in rugby union.
Dr Sharon Reutens: Management of older offenders with cognitive impairment in the justice system.
Mr Amanuel Kidane: Innovative models of dementia care for older Australian offenders.
Dr Patrick Stewart: Drug overdose and subclinical cognitive impairment.
Mr Vincent Poisson: How to facilitate help-seeking in male supporters of people with dementia.
Ms Sonja Falkiner: Identification and respectful management of dementia in an ageing Australian workforce.
Current External Postgraduate Students
Ms Michelle Lai (PhD USYD): Decision-making in young onset dementia.
Ms Cherie Tranter (Psych Masters ACU): The role of cognitive functioning and mental health in predicting successful completion of the Magistrates Early Referral into Treatment (MERIT) Program.
Ms Amy Crowe (Psych Masters UoW): Better outcomes for clients with alcohol use disorder: A cognitive rehabilitation program (BETA-COG)
Current Medical ILP Students
Mr Jason Lau: Gamification as a method for cognitive rehabilitation for drug and alcohol clients with cognitive impairment.
Mr Jordan Oosthuizen: A pilot study of a novel method to detect concussion in rugby union.