Funding for new training centre for optimal ageing

Monash University

Monash University has been awarded $4.58 million from the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) Industrial Transformation Research Program to establish a new ARC Training Centre for Optimal Ageing.

Recently announced by Federal Minister for Education and Youth, Alan Tudge, the Centre is led by Monash University’s Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health, the Faculty of Engineering, the Faculty of Information Technology and the Monash Data Futures Institute, in partnership with Federation University and a wide range of industry partners in the medical technologies, biotechnologies and pharmaceuticals (MTP) sector, as well as community organisations.

By 2060, approximately a quarter of Australians (~10 million) will be aged 60 years or older. The ARC Training Centre for Optimal Ageing seeks to synergise the cross-disciplinary expertise of the health sciences, engineering and information technology to train the next generation of researchers to become industry ready graduates who are well placed to address three key priorities of optimal ageing – enhancing cognition, promoting independence and fostering social connectedness.

The Training Centre will work with industry and community partners to deliver effective digital and engineering solutions, such as digital health apps, sensors, artificial intelligence, and enriched environments, for a growing ageing market.

“Our approach is to shift from a reactive to a proactive model of ageing, from the diagnosis and treatment of isolated diseases of ageing to a more complete, preventative and consumer-empowered system that seeks to optimise, safeguard, and maintain the health and wellbeing of Australians as they age from mid-life to late-life,” said Training Centre Director, Associate Professor Yen Ying Lim, from Monash University’s Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health.

Professor Joanna Batstone, Director of the Monash Data Futures Institute, said: “Central to this shift will be our use of cutting edge advances in data analytics, AI and human-machine interaction. This will help configure and develop innovative approaches to the design, implementation and delivery of technologies and sociotechnical systems that respond to industry and unmet needs focussed on ageing well.”

“We aim to develop digital technologies to empower Australians to optimise their wellbeing, stay at home and connected to their communities,” said Co-Director Professor Dana Kulic, from the Faculty of Engineering.

Associate Professor Lim says that her vision for the Centre is to equip future graduates with knowledge and skills in both health and technology, to develop the much needed capability to further drive the digital transformation of industries supporting our ageing population. It is her hope that this will deliver economic and psychosocial benefits that will enable Australians to live with health, identity and dignity as they age.

“Involving Australian citizens in the design of future technology solutions to help them as they age, will be a core priority of the Centre,” said Dr Roisin McNaney from the Faculty of Information Technology.

The ARC Training Centre for Optimal Ageing will run until 2025 and will work closely with the Monash National Centre for Healthy Ageing and the Rehabilitation, Ageing and Independent Living (RAIL) Research Centre to further strengthen the Monash University vision of redefining education to meet societal challenges.

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