New schizophrenia research unveiled on the TEDx Sydney stage

Professor Cyndi Shannon Weickert will be speaking at the annual TEDx Sydney event being held at the Opera House on Saturday 26 April. She will present findings from her research illuminating the path to new and improved treatments for schizophrenia. She will talk about her research past, present and future, whilst reflecting on her family’s journey with the disease and her experiences as a sister and care giver.

With her team of over 20 scientists, Professor Shannon Weickert, who is Macquarie Group Foundation Chair of Schizophrenia Research, a joint position between NeuRA, UNSW Australia, and the Schizophrenia Research Institute aims to uncover the underlying biological basis of schizophrenia, focusing on hormones and immune factors, and how to turn this new understanding into treatments and eventually a cure for schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is a devastating mental illness that ranks among the top 10 causes of disability in developed countries worldwide. It first manifests during adolescence, causing profound withdrawal from family and friends, a decrease in intellectual abilities, hallucinations and delusions.

Professor Shannon Weickert has dedicated her life to helping those suffering from schizophrenia. Hers is a story of loss, survival and a strong faith in science.

In 2008, her twin brother Scott, a schizophrenia sufferer who she was trying to save, died in the family home they grew up in whilst she was back home in New York for Thanksgiving. Though too late to save Scott’s life, Cyndi’s tireless and brave quest to save others with the disease continues.

Prof Shannon Weickert leads her laboratory based at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA). Her work has broad impact beyond psychiatry including examining molecular mechanisms by which hormones and growth factors cooperate to control gene expression, also experimental examination of how sex hormones impact social development in adolescence.

She has made pivotal contributions to the conceptualisation of schizophrenia as a neurodevelopmental disorder and is best known for her pioneering work on brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) and oestrogen receptor.

At the TEDx event, Prof Shannon Weickert will be discussing the results of a new and currently unpublished paper.