New funding for lead schizophrenia researcher

Research into the causes and possible cure of schizophrenia has been given an important funding boost today by the NSW Government.

“We’re very pleased to invest $1 million to ensure the continuation of the Macquarie Group Foundation Chair of Schizophrenia Research, which provides scientific leadership in the field and is the only position of its kind in Australia,” said Minister Assisting the Minister for Health (Mental Health), Barbara Perry.

The position, based at the Schizophrenia Research Laboratory at Neuroscience Research Australia, is held by one of the world’s leading schizophrenia researchers Professor Cyndi Shannon Weickert.

The Schizophrenia Research Laboratory is dedicated to understanding the causes of schizophrenia – as well as looking at ways to prevent the illness.

Professor Shannon Weickert is undertaking research to identify a brain receptor that is faulty in people with schizophrenia. A clinical trial currently underway is examining the effectiveness of a drug which has been found to act on these receptors in the brain.

Ms Perry said the research could revolutionise the treatment of people with schizophrenia.

“Professor Shannon Weickert’s profound determination to find a cure is inspired by her late brother who was diagnosed with schizophrenia in his teens. It’s this driving force that could ultimately have a remarkable impact on the way we treat schizophrenia.”

One in 100 Australians will be diagnosed with schizophrenia, a potentially very debilitating illness. For some the chance of diagnosis is even greater, with children of parents with schizophrenia being 13 times more likely to develop the illness.

CEO of the Schizophrenia Research Institute, Professor Vaughan Carr, said the injection of funding was welcome.

“We need investment to understand the basic causes of why the brain derails in adolescence for people with schizophrenia. I thank the NSW Government for this new injection of funding and for the $2.5 million they have already committed to us for Professor Shannon Weickert’s work.”

The position is a joint initiative of the Schizophrenia Research Institute, Neuroscience Research Australia, the University of NSW and the Macquarie Group Foundation.