Dr. Sandra Garrido will join the MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development at Western Sydney University in early January 2016 having been awarded a prestigious NHMRC Research Development Fellowship. As a research fellow, Dr Garrido will explore the interaction between music and health in older people with depression and mild dementia. This funding comes as part of a wider Australian initiative to diagnose dementia, to better understand the nature of the disease, and to find more effective and innovative therapies for those suffering from it.
Dementia is prevalent in Australia, with an estimated 330,000 Australians currently living with the degenerative disease. According to the Minister for Health, Sussan Ley, dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia and around 1.2 million Australians are involved in the care of someone with the disease. She also predicts that the number of people with dementia will grow to 1 million over the next 40 years.
Dr. Garrido's research focuses on improving the quality of life of those affected by dementia and will investigate whether music can assist in alleviating depression, especially in people with mild dementia. She will explore the use of music as a self-management tool for treating depression, and will develop innovative tools and strategies for both patients and their caregivers.
The Minister for Education and Training, Senator Simon Birmingham, highlighted the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach in maintaining Australia's position as a world leader in dementia research, saying that "tackling dementia needs to be done with a cross-disciplinary focus utilising research skills in a range of areas including neuroscience, bioinformatics, and cultural, social and economic disciplines."
Dr. Garrido completed her PhD at the University of New South Wales in 2012, during which she conducted research into the reasons why people listen to sad music. With a proven understanding of the power that music has on mood, and a background in both psychology and music, she now joins the MARCS Institute at Western Sydney University to continue her research.
Dr. Garrido also appeared in a segment on 7 News (opens in a new window) about the announcement of Australia's commitment to dementia research.