Home' Scoop : Scoop 53 Spring 2010 Contents FREMANTLE
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funding for its projects – and, therefore, wages
for his 40 staff. He spends several weeks a year
travelling the world lecturing and meeting scientists,
forging links and contacts that have proved
invaluable in furthering the foundation’s work.
Lecturing has taken him back to Bahrain and to
Goa – where he will be keynote speaker at India’s
National Alzheimer’s conference in September.
It is important to attract attention to their work.
Once a few research breakthroughs are made, the
foundation becomes eligible for big international
funding grants. But private funding is still crucial
to his work. Testosterone has proved effective
at lowering amyloid levels in the brain, but
because it is not a drug that can be patented by a
pharmaceutical company, funding for clinical trials
into the effectiveness of testosterone has been
hard to come by.
Professor Martins is currently liaising with
neuroscientists in Indonesia to further the research
into its efficacy, and has been working with
Lorinda Klaric, a 30-year-old mother of three
suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s to see if
testosterone will delay her symptoms. He is having
some good results, “but private funding is needed to
properly trial testosterone. I’d love to do it in Perth.”
Professor Martins' comittment to his work
is sustained by a deep desire to help others. His
Catholic faith has fed his interest in helping
humanity. He is actively involved in the St Vincent
de Paul organisation (he is president of the
Bentley branch) and spends several hours a week
volunteering, visiting people in need, “and just
sharing yourself with them”.
It is work that he finds an enjoyable release.
“It is more instantly rewarding, the joy of people
being happy, just seeing their response, rather than
doing research, which is a long road.” he says.
The professor is also an active member of
Rotary, and recently helped to set up a micro-credit
project in Kerala, India.
As well as his international engagements,
Professor Martins’ role as West Australian of
the Year means he also gives about three lectures a
week to local community organisations.
“It’s busy, but it’s an enjoyable busy-ness,”
he says. “In terms of raising the profile of
Alzheimer’s and the work of neuroscientists, it
has been a huge benefit.”
Professor Martins says he has met so many
great people throughout the year who have been
valuable contacts for his work, such as mental
health expert and Australian of the Year, Professor
Pat McGorry. He is also looking at writing a book
with Senior Australian of the Year Mag gie Beer
about diets that are protective ag ainst Alzheimer’s .
His term as West Australian of the Year expires
at the end of November which might give him a
little more time for some of the other things he
loves to do, such as spending time with his three
adult daughters. Jennifer is a doctor, now studying
dentistry, while Jodi, the second is a pharmacist
planning to study medicine. He shakes his head
facetiously. “I think I have to do a better job with
them – they should be having fun,” he chuckles.
Fortunately, he has one daughter who is not set
on such a straight path. “Our third, Rachel, is still
finding herself,” he laughs.
Professor Martins lives in Maddington – in
the first house he and Georgia bought tog ether
– and his only wish is that he had more time to
spend in his g arden. “My biggest problem is time,
so I enjoy watching my garden and occasionally
doing something in it.”
Later this year he and his wife will travel to
Scotland to visit Jodi, who is living there, and will
also g o to Rome in October for the canonisation
of Mary McKillop.
He knows that he could have made a lot
more money had he taken a job in a commercial
laboratory run by one of the big pharmaceutical
companies, but there is no doubt that he has found
plenty of rewards in the path he has chosen.
“I have been able to attract a lot of young
people into this area,” he says. “I am passionate
and it is infectious, it’s a lovely feeling.”
“The disease rages like a bushfire
and by the time there are symptoms
it has burnt out the brain...”
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