A charity set up by a self-made Mandurah businessman who left Perth at the age of 14 has donated $150,000 to help find better ways to treat depression in people with Alzheimer's disease.
The University of Western Australia's Centre for Health and Ageing Research Director and Head of Psychiatry for Older Adults, Winthrop Professor Osvaldo Almeida, said the research aimed to improve the quality of life for people with Alzheimer's disease and for their carers by offering a promising new treatment for those with depression.
"A number of antidepressant drugs have been tested in people with depression and Alzheimer's disease but they have limited or no effect on the quality of life and mood of these patients," Professor Almeida said. "It is, therefore, necessary that we make it our priority to find alternative treatments.
"This research is especially important as people with Alzheimer's tend to have a faster cognitive decline and live shorter lives, particularly if they also experience depression."
The Theodore and Isabella Wearne Charitable Trust was established in 1960 by the Wearnes for the "relief of aged persons and the help and education of poor children in this State".
This is the first time the community-minded charity has supported leading research to assist in treating people with Alzheimer's disease.
Professor Almeida said philanthropic support for the Centre's research programs was always important, but never more crucial than in today's financial climate.
"We are extremely grateful to The Theodore and Isabella Wearne Charitable Trust for their generous support," he said. "It will have a huge impact on people's lives."
Alzheimer's disease is the third leading cause of death and now the leading cause of disability in Australia. No cure exists. One in two adults over 80 years are affected by Alzheimer's disease. There are 30,000 Western Australians affected by Alzheimer's disease.
The Theodore and Isabella Wearne Charitable Trust was announced at a dinner in Perth in 1960 to celebrate Mr and Mrs Wearne's golden wedding anniversary.
Mr Wearne, who was 82 at the time of the announcement, was born in Mandurah and educated at Fremantle Grammar School. He left Western Australia in 1893 as a 14-year-old apprentice to live in Singapore.
In 1906 he founded Wearne Brothers Ltd with his brother Charles, which went on to become the biggest motor firm in Singapore. Before World War II the brothers also operated the first airline in Malaya, as it was then known.
Photo: Professor Osvaldo Almeida, Dr Ben Lacey, Mr Ian Flack (from the Trust), Associate Professor Andrew Ford, Professor Leon Flicker
Winthrop Professor Osvaldo Almeida (School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences) (+61 8) 9224 2720
Christianne White (WA Centre for Health and Ageing) (+61 8) 9224 2993 / (+61 4) 15 213 661
UWA Media Office (+61 8) 6488 7977