CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: A new agreement between The University of Queensland and the Medical University of South Carolina has ensured cures for dementia and other brain disorders are firmly on the agenda at both institutions.
Premier Peter Beattie, on a trade mission to Queensland’s Sister State, South Carolina, today observed the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement between the two institutions.
Mr Beattie said The University of Queensland would participate in the agreement through the Queensland Brain Institute.
“The Queensland Brain Institute was the first institute in the world to be set up specifically to concentrate on understanding the detailed mechanisms controlling brain function and to translate this understanding into developing new therapeutics to treat mental and neurological diseases,” Mr Beattie said.
“This new agreement will focus on research into dementia and neurotrauma.
“The Medical University of South Carolina has great expertise in animal models of dementia, like Alzheimer’s, which will allow the Queensland Brain Institute to test recent discoveries of how to delay the onset of dementia using molecules to stimulate production of nerve cells,” Mr Beattie said.
Director of the Queensland Brain Institute, Professor Perry Bartlett, said discussions on joint brain research with the Medical University of South Carolina began early in 2006.
“We were excited to learn we had many common interests and complementary technologies which we believe would significantly enhance our ability to develop new therapeutics to treat mental and neurological diseases,” Professor Bartlett said.
He explained mental and neurological illness constituted the greatest health burden of any disease group in Australia and the USA, nearly double that of cancer or heart disease.
“If the onset of dementia could be delayed by five years, the annual incidence of dementia would be reduced by fifty per cent,” Professor Bartlett said.
“Successful interventions to prevent dementia or to delay its onset in older people will lead to significant reductions in human suffering and substantial savings to health and welfare budgets.”
Also present at the signing were Dr Mark Kindy, Director, Neurosciences Institute, Medical University of South Carolina and Mr John Kelly, Deputy Director of Operations at the Queensland Brain Institute.
The Institute was formed as part of the Queensland Government's Smart State Initiative, building on a long history of neuroscience at The University of Queensland.
Professor Bartlett's research team showed for the first time that the adult brain was capable of producing new nerve cells, opening up a whole new field of research and possibilities for regeneration.
At today’s signing ceremony Mr Beattie’s was presented with the Medical University of South Carolina’s Presidential Merit Award for promoting collaboration between South Carolina and Queensland.
Mr Beattie said he regarded Queensland’s association with South Carolina as so important that he had led five trade and investment missions to South Carolina since being elected premier in 1998.
“We became Sister States in 1999 and there have been many mutually beneficial exchanges in the years that followed,” Mr Beattie said.
“As a result of this mission, those contacts will become even closer and our collaborations more profound.
“I accept this award on behalf of the people of Queensland, for while governments have done whatever they can to facilitate our relationship, it’s our people who make it work,” Mr Beattie said.
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Notes to the Editor
QUEENSLAND BRAIN INSTITUTE
The Queensland Brain Institute was formed in 2003 as part of the Queensland Government’s Smart State Initiative, building on a long history of neuroscience at The University of Queensland. QBI is dedicated to understanding the molecular basis of brain function and applying this knowledge to the development of new therapeutics to treat brain and mental health disorders.