Cardiovascular Drugs for Dementia

Screening the Potential Dementia Prevention Effect of Commonly Prescribed Cardiovascular Medications

Degree type


Closing date

25 September 2023



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International

About the research project

Nearly half a million Australians live with dementia, the second leading cause of death, costing 15 billion AUD annually. With an ageing population, the number of people with dementia will double by 2058. However, there is no drug to cure or treat dementia. Screening the effect of cardiovascular medicines against dementia can be an alternative. These medications' clinical safety and tolerance have been well established, and repurposing them for dementia is a cheaper and quicker alternative. Several classes of cardiovascular drugs are available. Their potential protective effect against dementia can differ by either their efficacy in controlling the dementia risk factor they primarily prescribed for (blood pressure or blood sugar level) or their individual or class side effects that may prevent cognitive decline. In patients with hypertension, diabetes, and kidney disease, for instance, an angiotensin-receptor blocker (ARB) is preferred over a beta-blocker to treat hypertension. An ARB is beneficial as it delays the progression of kidney disease, and a beta-blocker is harmful as it adversely affects the management of diabetes by decreasing insulin secretion. Limited evidence is available to guide the selection of a particular class or individual cardiovascular drugs in patients with cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline. Pre-marketing studies are limited in identifying the protective effect of cardiovascular against dementia. This PhD project aims to:

  1. screen the potential dementia protective effect of different classes of cardiovascular medications;
  2. compare the potential dementia protective effect of individual drugs in the selected cardiovascular medication class; and,
  3. evaluate the effectiveness of switching to selected cardiovascular medications for their dementia protective effect.

We will conduct a systematic review and a large dataset analysis to meet Aim 1 and examine the dementia protective effect of individual medications in specific cardiovascular drug classes selected based on Aim 1 to meet Aim 2. Aim 3 will be met by evaluating the effectiveness (e.g., cost-effectiveness) of switching to individual cardiovascular medication based on Aim 2. For this PhD project, we will use general practice dataset, MedicineInsight, one of Australia's most extensive primary care datasets. It contains socio-demographic information, diagnoses, prescription, the reason for the encounter, pathology tests, and observations. As of September 2021, over 3 million regular patients from 680 general practices across Australia (45 from Tasmania) were included in the dataset. This project requires advanced data manipulation, matching and predictive modelling skills. The supervisory team will closely assist the PhD student in gaining such skills.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Woldesellassie Bezabhe


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $31,500 per annum (2023 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.

Other funding opportunities and fees

For further information regarding other scholarships on offer, and the various fees of undertaking a research degree, please visit our Scholarships and fees on research degrees page.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Ensure your eligibility for the scholarship round by referring to our Key Dates.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Sound understanding of clinical pharmacology

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Research using primary or secondary care data. High-quality peer-reviewed publication

Application process

  1. Select your project, and check that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria, including citizenship;
  2. Contact Dr Woldesellassie Bezabhe to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. In your application:
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • Submit a signed supervisory support form, a CV including contact details of 2 referees and your project research proposal.
  4. Apply prior to 25 September 2023.

Full details of the application process can be found under the 'How to apply' section of the Research Degrees website.

Following the closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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