Healthy Ageing Program

Research Overview

When most people hear the word "ageing" it is associated with our older population. Hence studies on "ageing" are usually limited to the elderly. At HAP, we define ageing as a phenomenon that occurs continuously throughout all stages of life - and presents its health challenges at all ages.

Chronic disease is the largest cause of death and disability in Australian society through-out the western world. Many studies have shown that indicators for chronic disease can be found years before onset. But not enough study has been done to clearly identify these indicators.

Our mission is to improve the understanding of health across a lifespan to promote healthy ageing and aid the prevention of disease in Australians.

Our vision is for all Australians to be able to maintain lifelong healthy ageing. An improved understanding of health across a lifespan may assist the development of guidelines for lifestyle changes that both promote health as we age. As well as contributing to research on brain diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, ultimately accelerating the discovery of treatments.

Our Work

The Healthy Ageing Project Population Youth-Senior (AgeHAPPY)

AgeHAPPY is a study into the lifelong effects of lifestyle and habits on health and the progression of ageing. It is delivered through an online health questionnaire, everyone over 18 years of age can participate. This research ultimately contributes to our ability to promote healthy ageing in Australia and to improve the wellbeing of all Australians. To participate, please follow the link below:


This round of the survey commenced in 2020. It started with a pilot study called HAP. Data on self-reported health, lifestyle, mood, and vascular risk factors are being collected from male and female participants aged 18 years and over.


The Women’s Healthy Ageing Project (WHAP)

WHAP commenced in 1990 as a study examining the health of Australian women from midlife (then aged 45-55 years) before the menopausal transition and into ageing. The study has almost 30 years of data on mood, dietary intake, risky behaviours, physical activity and social connectedness among other factors.

The WHAP continues to follow up these women, who are now all aged over 70 years. The children of the original participants have now joined the study as of 2021 commencing the WHAP generations study.

Clinical Trials Research

In collaboration with the Centre for Neuroscience at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Healthy Ageing Program runs clinical trials designed to improve neurological health and quality of life in ageing.

Fields of Research:
We publish in high impact journals in the field ranging from childhood to ageing, psychology to psychiatry, and internal medicine to medical imaging.


Chief Investiagtors

Clinical Panel

A clinical panel of Geriatricians, Neurologists, Psychologists and General Physicians for the review of WHAP participants for diagnostic decision making.

Professor Cassandra Szoeke, Professor Lorraine Dennerstein, Dr Katherine Campbell, Dr Andrew Hua , Dr Stephen Campbell

Research Team

  • Monique Stagnitti, Study Coordinator, Stream leader: Nutrition
  • Alexandra Gorelik, Senior Statistician, Stream leader: Health informatics
  • Dr Jesse Zanker, Geriatrician, Stream leader: Muscle and bone.
  • Dr Katherine Campbell, Clinical Psychologist, Stream leader: Mental health
  • Dr Edward Hill, Stream leader: Tasmanian AgeHAPPY
  • Dr Kate Gregorevic, Stream leader: Lifestyle for healthy ageing
  • Tze Jian Chin, PhD
  • Susan Phillips, PhD, AIHW linkage projects coordinator
  • Ashleigh Parker, Clinical Psychology PhD (University of Victoria, Canada)
  • Yujie Fang, Master of Biomedical Science, HAP Research Team Coordinator
  • Shivam Koul, Master of Biomedical Science, HAP Writing Workshop Coordinator
  • Sue Downie, Master of Philosophy
  • Monica Isabel Carvalheiro, Master of Biomedical Science, HAP Academic Output Officer
  • Xiaoyan Kang, Master of Biomedical Science
  • Keely Van Order, Master of Clinical Research, Clinical Diagnostics Coordinator
  • Maryam Masood, Master of Clinical Research, HAP Scientific Meetings Officer
  • Anita Stubbs, Doctor of Medicine
  • Joseph Say, Bachelor of Biomedicine Honours, HAP Scientific Meetings Officer
  • Tahlia Hunter, Bachelor of Biomedicine Honours, WHAP Celebrations Committee Officer
  • Seoyoung Lee, Bachelor of Biomedicine Honours
  • Syed Uzair Ahmed, Bachelor of Biomedicine Honours, WHAP Historical Officer
  • Dilara Ilhan, Bachelor of Biomedicine Honours
  • Britney Trang, Bachelor of Biomedicine Honours, Clinical Panel Officer
  • Akeel Doush, Bachelor of Biomedicine Honours, HAP Output Officer and Community Engagement
  • Emma Wang, Bachelor of Biomedicine Honours, AgeHAPPY Participant Coordinator
  • Kali Irvine-Nagle, Bachelor of Biomedicine, Media Intern
  • Igsun (Isika) Kusnandar, Bachelor of Biomedicine, Communications Intern
  • Erin Dermondy, Bachelor of Biomedicine, Intern
  • Jayde Codford, Bachelor of Biomedicine, Intern
  • Greta Torelli, AgeHAPPY Data Coordinator Intern
  • Olivia Mann, HAP Impact Officer Intern


The Healthy Ageing Program encourages collaboration, and in particular cross-cultural studies and combined cohort studies which use and analyse data from multiple research teams all around the world.

The research program has nurtured a growing cohort of alumni from undergraduate students to higher degree students, scientists and health professionals completing postgraduate research training.

The dataset is open for analysis towards higher degree study. Our dataset is available as the "Well Women's Longitudinal Study" via application to BioGrid Australia Limited. BioGrid Australia is a leading data sharing organisation, which provides a secure infrastructure that advances health research by linking participant-level, privacy-protected and ethically approved, clinical, biospecimen, genetic and imaging data among a wide network of health collaborators.


International Brain Health Registry

Our partnership with the Brain Health Registry allows the country comparison of changes in cognition over time. The BHR cognition test is provided alongside our lifestyle and health questionnaire to allow for the most comprehensive data on ageing and brain health.

Global Burden of Dementia

Our principal investigator is part of the Global Burden of Disease Neurology team. Taking clinical lead on the increasing prevalence of dementia.

Study of Women Across the Nation

The study of women across the nation is a sister study of the Womens Healthy Ageing Project since the 90s. Includes the international guidelines for women's health: Study of Women's Health Across the Nation

Falls and Neurocognitive Disorders: Two Interconnected Geriatric Syndromes (MDAP collaboration)

Falls are a significant cause of injuries, loss of confidence, increased morbidity, and institutionalisation in all older people, but particularly those with dementia. WHAP teamed up with other international cohorts to compare data on musculoskeletal and cognitive variables that could optimise the ability to predict and prevent falls in this age group.

AIHW-UoM Study– Healthcare Utilisation

An agreement the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare that enriches WHAP by allowing access to a number of state and national data repositories to complement data collected by the study. Allowing for the determination of the impact of various clinical, pharmacological and other factors on cognitive decline and healthy ageing in women.


A joint VCCC – HAP and School of Public Health collaboration focused on Women’s Health. Lifepool’s collaboration with WHAP has seen introduction of annual follow-ups including specialised validated tests of cognition and mood.


  1. Japan - Professor Noboru Fujise and Professor Manabu Ikeda: A comparison of Geriatric Depression Scale scores in older Australian and Japanese women.
  2. United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Italy: A symptomatic approach to understanding women's health experiences: a cross-cultural comparison of women aged 20 to 70 years.
  3. France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, UK, Brazil, Mexico, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Thailand, Japan, Korea and Australia: Global epidemiological study of variation of premenstrual symptoms with age and sociodemographic factors and Global study of women's experiences of premenstrual symptoms and their effects on daily life.
  4. Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom: Women's sexual functioning, lifestyle, mid-age, and menopause in 12 European countries.


Funding for the Healthy Ageing Program (HAP) has been provided by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC Grants 547600, 1032350 & 1062133), Ramaciotti Foundation, Australian Healthy Ageing Organisation, the Brain Foundation, the Alzheimer’s Association (NIA320312), Australian Menopausal Society, Bayer Healthcare, Shepherd Foundation, Scobie and Claire Mackinnon Foundation, Collier Trust Fund, J.O. & J.R. Wicking Trust, Mason Foundation and the Alzheimer’s Association of Australia and Royal Australian College of Physicians. Inaugural funding was provided by VicHealth and the NHMRC. The Principal Investigator of HAP (Cassandra Szoeke) is supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Research Outcomes

Our research in the media

Research Publications

    The Healthy Ageing Program’s Impact

    The programs impact graph
  • Nichols, E., Szoeke, C. E., Vollset, S. E., Abbasi, N., Abd-Allah, F., Abdela, J., ... & Awasthi, A. (2019). Global, regional, and national burden of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, 1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. The Lancet Neurology18(1), 88-106. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(18)30403-4
  • GBD 2016 Neurology Collaborators. (2019). Global, regional, and national burden of neurological disorders, 1990-2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(18)30499-X
  • Szoeke, C., Coulson, M., Campbell, S., & Dennerstein, L. (2016). Cohort profile: Women’s Healthy Ageing Project (WHAP)-a longitudinal prospective study of Australian women since 1990. Women's midlife health2(1), 5. doi:
  • Szoeke, C., Lehert, P., Henderson, V. W., Dennerstein, L., Desmond, P., & Campbell, S. (2016). Predictive factors for verbal memory performance over decades of aging: data from the Women's healthy ageing project. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry24(10), 857-867. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2016.05.008
  • Campbell, K. E., Dennerstein, L., Tacey, M., Fujise, N., Ikeda, M., & Szoeke, C. (2017). A comparison of geriatric depression scale scores in older Australian and Japanese women. Epidemiology and psychiatric sciences26(1), 70-78. doi: 10.1017/S2045796015001110.
  • Burn, K., Dennerstein, L., Browning, C., & Szoeke, C. (2016). Patterns of social engagement in the transition to later life. Maturitas88, 90-95. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2016.03.016
  • Bovalino, S., Charleson, G., & Szoeke, C. (2016). The impact of red and processed meat consumption on cardiovascular disease risk in women. Nutrition32(3), 349-354. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2015.09.015.
  • Burn, K., & Szoeke, C. (2015). Grandparenting predicts late-life cognition: Results from the Women's Healthy Ageing Project. Maturitas81(2), 317-322. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2015.03.013.
  • Burn, K., & Szoeke, C. (2015). Is grandparenting a form of social engagement that benefits cognition in ageing?. Maturitas80(2), 122-125. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2014.10.017.
  • Chua, C. K., Henderson, V. W., Dennerstein, L., Ames, D., & Szoeke, C. (2014). Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate and cognition in midlife, post-menopausal women. Neurobiology of aging35(7), 1654-1655. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2014.01.140.
  • Lonnèe‐Hoffmann, R. A., Dennerstein, L., Lehert, P., & Szoeke, C. (2014). Sexual Function in the Late Postmenopause: A Decade of Follow‐Up in a Population‐Based Cohort of Australian Women. The journal of sexual medicine11(8), 2029-2038. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12590.
  • Steinbach, M., Szoeke, C., & Dennerstein, L. (2014). Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in healthy ageing women from the 20 year Women's Healthy Ageing Project (WHAP). Australasian Journal on Ageing. 33. 63-63. doi: 10.1111/ajag.12179.
  • McCluskey, G. E., Szoeke, C., & Yates, P. (2014). Subjective memory complaints ten years prior have no relationship with brain amyloid: data from the women’s healthy ageing project. Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association10(4), P365-P366. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2014.05.129.
  • Szoeke, C. E., Robertson, J. S., Rowe, C. C., Yates, P., Campbell, K., Masters, C. L., ... & Desmond, P. (2013). The Women's Healthy Ageing Project: Fertile ground for investigation of healthy participants ‘at risk’for dementia. International Review of Psychiatry25(6), 726-737. doi: 10.3109/09540261.2013.873394.
  • Chen, K., Lowndes, G., Ames, D., & Szoeke, C. (2012). The influence of midlife cholesterol on late-life cognition: The Women's Healthy Ageing Project (WHAP). Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association8(4), P596. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2012.05.2075.
  • Szoeke, C. E., Cicuttini, F. M., Guthrie, J. R., & Dennerstein, L. (2008). The relationship of reports of aches and joint pains to the menopausal transition: a longitudinal study. Climacteric11(1), 55-62. doi: 10.1080/13697130701746006
  • Szoeke, C. E., Cicuttini, F. M., Guthrie, J. R., Clark, M. S., & Dennerstein, L. (2006). Factors affecting the prevalence of osteoarthritis in healthy middle-aged women: data from the longitudinal Melbourne Women's Midlife Health Project. Bone39(5), 1149-1155. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2006.05.016.
  • Dennerstein, L., Guthrie, J. R., Clark, M., Lehert, P., & Henderson, V. W. (2004). A population-based study of depressed mood in middle-aged, Australian-born women. Menopause11(5), 563-568. doi: 10.1097/01.GME.0000113844.74462.F6
  • Guthrie, J. R., Dennerstein, L., Taffe, J. R., Lehert, P., & Burger, H. G. (2004). The menopausal transition: a 9-year prospective population-based study. The Melbourne Women's Midlife Health Project. Climacteric7(4), 375-389. doi: 10.1080/13697130400012163
  • Dennerstein, L., Lehert, P., Dudley, E., & Guthrie, J. (2001). Factors contributing to positive mood during the menopausal transition. The Journal of nervous and mental disease189(2), 84-89.
  • Mazza, D., Dennerstein, L., Garamszegi, C. V., & Dudley, E. C. (2001). The physical, sexual and emotional violence history of middle‐aged women: A community‐based prevalence study. Medical journal of Australia175(4), 199-201. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2001.tb143095.x
  • Dennerstein, L., Dudley, E. C., Hopper, J. L., Guthrie, J. R., & Burger, H. G. (2000). A prospective population-based study of menopausal symptoms. Obstetrics & Gynecology96(3), 351-358. doi: 10.1016/S0029-7844(00)00930-3
  • Guthrie, J. R., Dennerstein, L., & Dudley, E. C. (1999). Weight gain and the menopause: a 5-year prospective study. Climacteric2(3), 205-211. doi: 10.3109/13697139909038063
  • Guthrie, J. R., Ebeling, P. R., Hopper, J. L., Barrett-Connor, E., Dennerstein, L., Dudley, E. C., ... & Wark, J. D. (1998). A prospective study of bone loss in menopausal Australian-born women. Osteoporosis International8(3), 282-290. doi: 10.1007/s001980050066
  • Dennerstein, L., Smith, A. M., Morse, C., Burger, H., Green, A., Hopper, J., & Ryan, M. (1993). Menopausal symptoms in Australian women. Medical journal of Australia159(4), 232-236. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.1993.tb137821.x
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