Welcome to the Healthy Brain Project

Our Aim

The Healthy Brain Project is a community-based initiative to understand optimal brain health and aging. We are a group of neuroscientists based at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, who are committed to investigating why some people develop brain diseases and why others don't. This will help us develop behavioural and pharmacological strategies to combat diseases like Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. Your interest and participation in this project can make a big difference, and we thank you for your time and your commitment.

Every Gift Makes a Difference

Philanthropic support from individuals, foundations and organisations is crucial to our goal of improving lives through brain research. Your support will help us find better ways to diagnose illnesses early and accurately, develop better treatments and ultimately, achieve cures. By clicking on the Donate button, you will be redirected to the Florey Institute's donation page - when you donate, you will be provided with a space to say where you want the money to go to. Please type in "the Healthy Brain Project" or "Dr Rachel Buckley" or "Dr Yen Ying Lim". Either option will ensure the money goes to the Healthy Brain Project! Thank you very much for your commitment to research!

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VIDEOS

LATEST NEWS

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OUR LATEST WORK

Aβ-related memory decline in APOE ε4 noncarriers: Implications for Alzheimer disease. Neurology. 2016 Apr 26; 86(17): 1635-1642. doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000002604

Yen Ying Lim, Simon M Laws, Victor L Villemagne, Robert H Pietrzak, Tenielle Porter, David Ames, Christopher Fowler, Stephanie Rainey-Smith, Peter J Snyder, Ralph N Martins, Olivier Salvado, Pierrick Bourgeat, Christopher C Rowe, Colin L Masters & Paul Maruff.

Subjective memory decline predicts greater rates of clinical progression in preclinical Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer’s & Dementia. 2016 Feb 4. pii: S1552-5260(16)00015-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2015.12.013.

Rachel F Buckley, Paul Maruff, David Ames, Pierrick Bourgeat, Ralph N Martins, Colin L Masters, Stephanie Rainey-Smith, Nicola Lautenschlager, Christopher C Rowe, Greg Savage, Victor L Villemagne & Kathryn A Ellis, on behalf the AIBL Study.

Self and informant memory concerns align in healthy memory complainers and in early stages of mild cognitive impairment but separate with increasing cognitive impairment. Age and Ageing. 2015 Nov;44(6):1012-9. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afv136

Rachel F Buckley, Michael Saling, Kathryn Ellis, Christopher Rowe, Paul Maruff, Lance S Macaulay, Ralph N Martins, Colin L Masters, Greg Savage, Stephanie Rainey-Smith, Alan Rembach & David Ames.

WHO WE ARE

The Healthy Brain Project is supported by generous grants from The NHMRC National Institute for Dementia Research, and the Alzheimer’s Association International Research Grant Program.

RACHEL BUCKLEY

RACHEL BUCKLEY

BSc (Hons), Ph.D.

Rachel is a lead investigator of the Healthy Brain Project and an early career research fellow at Harvard Medical School and The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health. Her research interests focus on early detection of dementia via subjective concerns of memory decline and determining the reliability of subjective concerns as a risk factor for dementia. Her work is supported by the NHMRC National Institute for Dementia Research, Alzheimer's Australia and the Brain Foundation.

YEN YING LIM

YEN YING LIM

B.A., B.App.Sci (Hons), M.Psych, Ph.D.

Yen Ying is a lead investigator of Healthy Brain Project and an early career research fellow at The Florey Institue of Neuroscience and Mental Health. Her research interest includes understanding genetic and lifestyle factors that may accelerate or protect against brain diseases. Her work is supported by the NHMRC National Institute for Dementia Research, Alzheimer's Australia, the Yulgilbar Alzheimer’s Research Program, and the Alzheimer’s Association (USA).

Key Senior Mentors

COLIN MASTERS

COLIN MASTERS

Professor
B Med Sci (Hons), MBBS, MD, Hon.DLitt W.Aust., FRCPath, FRCPA, FAA, FTSE, AO

Laureate Professor at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health.

PAUL MARUFF​

PAUL MARUFF​

ProfessorB Beh Sci (Hons), PhD

Professor at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience & Mental Health Chief Science Officer, Cogstate Ltd.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT

Scientific Research

Your participation in the Healthy Brain Project can help transform the way that we conduct and communicate our science. At the Healthy Brain Project, we aim to understand how genes may influence risk for developing brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. By understanding the genetic underpinnings of these diseases, we will obtain important insights into the biological bases of brain disorders, which in turn will provide clues for the development of treatment strategies to slow or even stop disease progression. We are also aiming to understand how risk factors that begin to develop in mid-life (e.g., high cholesterol levels, physical inactivity, diabetes), and protective factors (e.g., social engagement, occupational complexity, diet) act by themselves or together to infer risk for these brain disorders. As these factors are often modifiable, understanding them will mean that we will be able to better inform the types of lifestyle interventions required to help delay disease progression.

Community

We recognise and appreciate the invaluable amount of time and energy that our volunteers have given to the Healthy Brian Project. A key aim of this initiative is to build a community that is interested and invested in learning more about brain health. As such, we encourage all our volunteers to participate in our Healthy Brain Project forum, where you will have the opportunity to discuss recent brain health articles in the media, have your brain health questions answered by one of our experts, support each other in your individual brain health journeys, and be invited to our public lectures, where you will hear about our latest research and meet the brains behind protecting yours. We are also aiming to build a large database of brain health so that we will be able to provide you with some information of how healthy your brain is relative to the general population. At return visits, you will also be able to see how your brain health is tracking over time. Please note that this is NOT a diagnostic service, and we highly recommend that you speak with your primary care physician should you have any concerns about your brain health.

Clinical Trials

One of the reasons why brain disorders are so hard to cure is because of the length, cost and challenge of conducting clinical trials. The development of a single drug typically takes many, many years. By participating in the Healthy Brain Project, and by completing our surveys and thinking tests, we will be able to better identify individuals who may benefit from being in a clinical trial. This pre-screening process does not only save clinical trials a lot of time, but also allows identified volunteers priority access to brain-health therapeutics. We would like to stress that any information you provide will remain strictly confidential and will only be accessed by the Healthy Brain Project team. Before we provide any information to clinical trials, we will ALWAYS seek your written permission. It is also important to note that if you have been identified for participation in a clinical trial, it DOES NOT mean that you are necessarily at risk of a brain disorder. Many clinical trials require healthy volunteers to act as a basis for comparison. It is as important for us to understand normality as it is for us to understand abnormality.

Common Questions

Everything you need to know before you get started

WHAT IS THE AIM OF THIS PROJECT?

Basically, our aim is to track a large group of middle-aged Australians so that we can identify which parts of brain biology, genes, psychology and behaviour (or a combination of) can help predict who will progress to a dementia later in life. We will gather lots of data from ~4,000 participants and follow them each year for at least five years (and longer if possible!)

WHAT IS EXPECTED OF ME IF I AGREE TO PARTICIPATE?

You will be asked to participate in a series of memory and thinking tests, and to fill out surveys related to lifestyle, mood, personality, medical history and demographic information. You can do this over a period of days, whenever you can snatch some spare time! Obviously, we’d like you to do the memory tests in a quiet space, but the surveys can be done on the go on the way to work, if that’s the only time you have!

HOW DO YOU PLAN ON USING THE INFORMATION I PROVIDE YOU?

We will be using your data in a few exciting ways: the first, will be to track your progress over time in relation to your genetic data. In order to fulfil our requirements as researchers, we will be publishing our findings in scientific journals and uploading these publications to the website as we go. Our second way to use your information is to give back information on how you’re progressing in relation to the rest of the group on the website. We are all about open science here! Every time ~500 new participants get involved with the website, we’ll recompute all the averages so that you can determine where you sit in relation to the group. One thing to remember is that our website is NOT a diagnostic service, and is not intended to be used in this way. It is simply our way of giving back to you so that you feel that our work is not a “black box”, but a valuable interaction between scientist and volunteer. Without your involvement, there would be no data!

HOW SECURE IS MY PERSONAL INFORMATION?

Your personal information will be kept under lock and key and deidentified. What we mean by that, is that your data will be stored on a secure server at our facility (The Florey Institute of Neurosciences and Mental Health), and all your test scores will be kept entirely separate from your identifying information (i.e. name, email and home address, phone number, etc. We have also performed encryption on your identifying information so that if there were a security breach, your information would not be traceable. We are doing everything in our power to keep your information safe, and are following Australian Medical Record Safety guidelines and are always being monitored and randomly audited by our Human Research Ethics Committees at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. For any concerns or queries, please email us directly at thehealthybrainproject@gmail.com

WHAT IS YOUR CONNECTION TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE AND THE FLOREY INSTITUTE?

Dr Lim and Dr Buckley are both researchers who are employed by the Florey Institute, and who are honorary affiliated researchers with the University of Melbourne. Our research is monitored and supported by the Florey Institute, and ethically approved by the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the University of Melbourne.

HOW CAN I CONTACT YOU FOR MORE INFORMATION?

If you have any additional questions or concerns about your participation, please email us at healthybrainproject@florey.edu.au or call us at +61 4 7789 0908 or +61 3 9035 3000.