Dementias Platform UK (DPUK), based in the Department of Psychiatry, supported the launch of a data-driven sister project, Dementias Platform Australia (DPAU). Run by UNSW Sydney's Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing, DPAU will work alongside DPUK towards the collective aim of accelerating discoveries in the understanding and diagnosis of dementia. The DPAU platform, which uses secure technology deployed at Monash University, will house data on physical and brain health from dozens of cohort studies conducted in Australia, the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. The ability to combine data across many studies has a potential not yet fully realised: DPAU's platform will complement DPUK's existing Data Portal, which gives researchers access to dementia-optimised data from more than 50 UK-based cohort studies.
Professor John Gallacher, Director of DPUK, said:
'It's hugely exciting to see how the dementia research community in Australia is thriving. The close partnership between DPUK and DPAU will enable us to share technical assets and best practice, and to facilitate international data analysis. Science is data-driven, and we can help accelerate progress in dementia research by working together at a global level to improve data access.'
Professor Alan Stein and his team led the cognitive and mental health components of a large multi-country collaborative study, known as the Child Development and Adult Social and Human Capital study. It involves three of the largest and longest-running birth cohorts in low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs): the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP) study, Cebu Longitudinal Health & Nutrition survey, and a cohort collected in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa. The study tested the reliability and validity of a set of measures of executive function and cognitive processes which are critical to mental health, academic achievement, and job success. They also examined the relationship of these measures with key aspects of human capital such as school attainment and processing speed. The study results provide evidence for a set of robust measures of executive function that could be used across different cultural, language and socio-economic backgrounds in future LMIC research, something which has only previously been evidenced from Western, educated, industrialised, rich and democratic (WEIRD) countries.