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Shannon Weickert Group - Professor Cyndi Shannon Weickert

The Schizophrenia Research Laboratory (jointly supported by Neuroscience Research Australia, the Schizophrenia Research Institute and the University of New South Wales) endeavours to delineate the basis of schizophrenia, a devastating mental illness which first manifests during adolescence, by bridging the molecular neurodevelopmental and cognitive neuronal systems approaches.

Schizophrenia causes profound withdrawal from family and friends, decreases in intellectual ability, hallucinations and delusions. Our view is that a derailment of the normal maturational program that occurs during the second decade of life in humans underlies schizophrenia. However, very little is known about the normal cellular and molecular developmental changes that occur in the human brain at this important time and how these changes may influence cognitive processes and the development of schizophrenia.

Our primary focus is to understand how genetic variants of hormone receptors and growth factors impact the development and function of the primate cerebral cortex during adolescence and how these factors may be altered in schizophrenia. Genetic variants of several developmentally important genes have been associated with schizophrenia, however the mechanism by which these variants lead to the disease is unknown.

Currently, we are exploring the molecular mechanism of how alterations in estrogen receptor and neuregulin may act to bring about schizophrenia by examining human brain tissue and primary neuronal culture. We are also directly analyzing human genomic DNA and performing comparative genomic studies that are aimed at more clearly pinpointing DNA sequence variations in susceptibility genes that may be critical in determining the vulnerability to schizophrenia.

We are also testing how the pubertal hormonal surge influences the expression of susceptibility genes and how this surge may drive normal molecular and social development of the non-human primate.


Click here to access Prof Shannon Weickert's research papers via ResearcherID or on Google Scholar:

 

Macquarie Group Foundation Chair of Schizophrenia Research, NeuRA, SRI and UNSW
Professor, School of Psychiatry, UNSW
T: +612 9399 1717
E: c.weickert@neura.edu.au

Cyndi's research is focused on the molecular developmental neurobiology of schizophrenia. She earned a PhD in Biomedical Science at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City and completed postdoctoral training at the National Institute of Mental Health rising to the level of Unit Chief of Molecules in the Neurobiology and Development of Schizophrenia Unit. Her awards include the Eli Lilly Young Investigator Award, NIH Fellows Award for Research Excellence, Independent Investigator Award and two Young Investigator Awards from NARSD. She has lectured throughout the world and contributed to over 60 publications.

(CASSI) Clinical Trial of a Hormonal Modulator in Schizophrenia

Cognitive and Affective Symptoms in Schizophrenia Intervention (CASSI) Trial

Enhancing Neurogenesis in Adult Primate Brain

Since brain disease often involves neuronal death, research into strategies to restore neuronal numbers could lead to improved function and recovery in patients.

Neuregulin Dependent Neuronal Migration and Schizophrenia

Genetic and environmental factors combine to increase risk for developing schizophrenia. The key neurobiological events in which risk genes participate during development are not understood.

The Effects of Sex hormones During Puberty on Neurocognition in an Animal Model of Schizophrenia

The aim of the project is to determine the role of pubertal testosterone in the development of cortical volume and cognitive function during adolescence in monkeys.

Research team 
Prof Cyndi Shannon Weickert's picture
Professor Cyndi Shannon Weickert
Macquarie Group Foundation Chair of Schizophrenia Research, NeuRA, SRI and UNSW
Professor, School of Psychiatry, UNSW
T: +612 9399 1717
E: c.weickert@neura.edu.au
Dr Tertia Purves-Tyson's picture
Dr Tertia Purves-Tyson
Senior Research Officer
NHMRC Peter Doherty Research Fellow
T: +612 9399 1751
E: t.purves-tyson@neura.edu.au
Katerina Zavitsanou's picture
Dr Katerina Zavitsanou
Research Fellow
T: +612 9399 1751
E: k.zavitsanou@neura.edu.au
Dr Samantha Fung's picture
Dr Samantha Fung
Research Officer
T: +612 9399 1741
E: s.fung@neura.edu.au
Dr Vibeke Catts's picture
Dr Vibeke Catts
Research Officer
T: +612 9399 1748
E: v.catts@neura.edu.au
Debora Rothman's picture
Debora Rothmond
Senior Research Assistant
Laboratory Manager
T: +612 9399 1735
E: d.rothmond@neura.edu.au
Dipesh Joshi's picture
Dr Dipesh Joshi
Research Officer, NeuRA
Conjoint Staff, School of Psychiatry, UNSW
T: +612 9399 1741
E: d.joshi@neura.edu.au
Ms Shan Yuan Tsai's picture
Shan-Yuan Tsai-Chin
Research Assistant
T: +612 9399 1749
E: s.tsai@neura.edu.au
Katie Allen's picture
Katie Allen
PhD Candidate
T: +612 9399 1748
E: k.allen@neura.edu.au
Danny Boerrigter's picture
Danny Boerrigter
Research Assistant
T: +612 9399 1748
E: d.boerrigter@neura.edu.au
Roxanne Cadiz's picture
Roxanne Cadiz
Technical Assistant
T: +612 9399 1748
E: r.cadiz@neura.edu.au
Yiru Zhang's picture
Yiru Zhang
PhD Student
T: +612 9399 1748
E: y.zhang@neura.edu.au
Nicole Hofstein's picture
Nicole Hofstein
Honours Student
T: +612 9399 1751
E: n.hofstein@neura.edu.au
Matthew Wong's picture
Matthew Wong
Honours Student
T: +612 9399 1748
E: m.wong@neura.edu.au

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