Thinking it through

Thursday 16 June 2016
Back: Dr Ian McRae, Prof Ester Cerin; Prof Nicola Lautenschlager. Front: Assoc Prof Kathryn Ellis; Assoc Prof Nicolas Cherbuin; Prof Kaarin Anstey; Prof Brian P Schmidt

Scientists at the Centre of Research Excellence in Cognitive Health are asking us all to think carefully about our cognitive health to pave the way towards healthy ageing.

The new Centre was launched today 15th June 2016 by the ANU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Brian P. Schmidt.

New Centre Director (and Director of CRAHW) Professor Kaarin Anstey, was joined by three Chief Investigators to talk about three directions in established and newly emerging fields of research to maintain cognitive health.

“People often ask me what cognitive heath is,” said Professor Anstey during her opening presentation which provided an overview of the Centre and its future research themes based upon evidence, intervention and modelling in the context of population health.

She explained to an audience of some 100 people from members of the public through to health care professionals and key health decision-makers, that cognitive health is our current level of cognitive abilities.  Things like our memory, reasoning, reaction time, planning and processing speed – the faculties that enable us to learn, acquire skills, adapt to change and function effectively in society.

Professor Anstey emphasised that cognitive health is an essential component in health, and healthy ageing, and one which must be tackled in a multidisciplinary way (as the Centre is established to do) before handing over to other Centre speakers.

Each speaker focussed on three of the fields of research which are part of that multidisciplinary approach including brain health, physical activity and the environment. They provided positive, clear and thoughtful messages to the audience to make cognitive health a priority.

MC for the morning was Dr Paul Kelly, Adjunct Professor at ANU and the ACT Chief Health Officer who talked about the importance of policymakers forming strong partnerships with scientists in order for science to both inform and support public health policy and infrastructure.

Moderator for the panel discussion which followed the presentations was ABC Radio’s Adam Shirley who helped scientists to field lively questions from the floor ranging from queries on mental health, inflammatory disease, climate change and environmental pollution, and stem cell research in the context of cognitive health.

Afterwards, members of the audience made the most of the opportunity to talk directly to scientists and other researchers at a brief morning tea.

A copy of the PowerPoint presentations (PPT, 7MB) are available for download, as well as the biographical details on speakers (DOC, 23KB).

An article about the launch is published on the College of Medicine, Biology and Environment website.

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