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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.

Interested in doing a postgraduate degree in neuroscience, psychiatry, or mental illness research? Click here and contact Prof Shannon Weickert to develop a research proposal.

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

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.

Canakinumab Add-on Treatment for Schizophrenia (CATS) Study

Canakinumab adjunctive treatment to reduce symptoms and improve cognition in people with schizophrenia displaying elevated blood inflammatory markers

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.

Schizotypal Personality Traits and Striatal Function

This study tests the relationship among probabilistic association learning (a type of non-conscious learning), schizotypal personality traits (involving odd behaviours and/or beliefs in some people),

tDCS Treatment for Auditory Hallucinations and Thinking Problems in Schizophrenia

We are recruiting people with schizophrenia to take part in a study of the effects of transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) upon thinking problems and some of the symptoms that occur with sch

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
Dr Tertia Purves-Tyson's picture
Dr Tertia Purves-Tyson
Senior Research Officer
NHMRC Peter Doherty Research Fellow
T: +612 9399 1751
Dr Vibeke Catts's picture
Dr Vibeke Catts
Senior Research Officer, Schizophrenia Research Laboratory
Conjoint Lecturer, School of Psychiatry, UNSW
T: +612 9399 1748
Debora Rothman's picture
Debora Rothmond
Senior Research Assistant
Laboratory Manager
T: +612 9399 1735
Ms Shan Yuan Tsai's picture
Shan-Yuan Tsai-Chin
PhD Student
T: +612 9399 1749
Danny Boerrigter's picture
Danny Boerrigter
Research Assistant
T: +612 9399 1846
Roxanne Cadiz's picture
Roxanne Cadiz
Technical Assistant
T: +612 9399 1846
Yiru Zhang's picture
Yiru Zhang
PhD Student
T: +612 9399 1748