Two Murdoch University health researchers have been awarded grants of over $600,000 each to continue their research in the health services field.Dr Stephanie Rainey-Smith and Dr Brendan Scott have won support from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Investigator Grants for their respective research into healthy ageing.
Dr Rainey-Smith is using the funding to pursue research into reducing the risk and incidence of dementia, a significant and growing global health challenge. Although the disease mainly affects older people, it is not a normal part of ageing and there are nearly 10 million new cases every year.
The $632,705 awarded to Dr Rainey-Smith will contribute to strategy development for the promotion of healthy brain ageing, in particular the impact of sleep on brain health.
“My research will address limitations in our understanding of the impact of sleep characteristics on memory, thinking abilities and biological markers of brain health in older adults,” Dr Rainey-Smith said.
“This will be done by exploring these relationships over time and enabling direct assessment of the effect of improved sleep on memory and thinking as well as markers of brain health, following sleep-improvement therapy.”
Dr Brendan Scott is also conducting research in the health services space, with his work focusing on the use of low-intensity exercise to improve fitness and function in older people.
Dr Scott's grant of $645,205 will be used to investigate the use of exercise in preventing reductions in functional abilities, such as age-related muscular atrophy, which reduce levels of independence and the ability to perform daily tasks.
Improving the effectiveness of exercise for older people can enhance quality of life and decrease risk of disease and falls."
"If older people are able to improve their physical function with blood flow restriction training, they will also improve their abilities to engage in tasks that require a degree of strength and fitness, which will further benefit their physical capabilities," said Dr Scott.
In this research, Dr Scott will use advanced physiological assessments to determine the usefulness of utilising blood-flow restriction during low-intensity exercise.
"Overall, this research program will investigate whether blood flow reduction training can enhance physical function in older people, which is important to optimise healthy ageing."
"I am extremely excited to have a full 5 years to dedicate to this line of work, and the project funding will mean that we can conduct high-quality research in this time" said Dr Scott.
The most meaningful aspect to receiving this grant, though, is that it will help us conduct research with older people that has a real chance of making a difference in their quality of life."Now, with approved applications by the Minister for Health, Dr Rainey-Smith and Dr Scott will await to commence their individual funded research in 2021.
“This grant gives me the security of knowing that I have continuity of employment and can therefore focus all my efforts on my research for the next five years,” said Dr Rainey-Smith.
A driver of creativity and innovation in research, the NHMRC Investigator Grants will be integral in both research projects creating meaningful change within their respective research communities, and society at large.
The NHMRC Investigator Grants provide researchers with flexibility to pursue new directions as they arise, and to form collaborations as needed, rather than restricting the scope to a specific research project.