Professor Kaarin Anstey at the launch of the University of NSW's Ageing Futures Institute.
Professor Kaarin Anstey at the launch of the University of NSW's Ageing Futures Institute. UNSW Research Centre

Bold move by NSW university to tackle ageing

AGEING has hit the top of the futures agenda at the University of NSW with it launching its Ageing Future Institute under the directorship of Professor Kaarin Anstey.

It's one of four institutes launched as part of the university's drive to find innovative approaches to tackling many of the global challenges in the 21st century, utilising inter-discipline relationships between its broad range of researchers. The first four of the Futures Institutes will hone in on ageing, cellular genomics, digital grid and materials and manufacturing.

Interdisciplinary collaborative research is what UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Ian Jacobs described as a bold move, but one that will deliver answers that may only be achieved through this approach. The university has committed up to $200 million to resource all its Futures Institutes.

"It's a virtual institute with staff located in every faculty," Professor Anstey said. The world-recognised expert in dementia risk reduction will draw on the research and knowledge of people from psychology, psychiatry, public health, economics, social policy, risk and actuarial studies, the built environment, human rights, biomechanical engineering, telecoms and robotics will be contributors to the knowledge base and solution development along with the research institutes Neuroscience Research Australia and The George Institute for Global Health.

"Ageing is pervasive, its permanent and its impact on society is profound," Professor Anstey said. "It's wonderful to be leading an institute where we will be placed right at the forefront to take all the opportunities that population ageing is going to bring us and make the most of those opportunities and also to work together to address the challenges."

The institute has five themes it will be addressing - healthy ageing; cognition, brain, and mental health; economy and policy; people, technology, environment and creativity; self and society.

Professor Anstey hopes to see her research group work closely with the Aged Care Royal Commission. While the institute is in the planning phase, collaborating with the commission is at the top of the institute's horizon.

"It's going to give us an opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the commission. I think it's going to bring us together around the common problem."

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