NSW Government invests in mental illness research

Research into schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder has taken a crucial step forward with NSW researchers at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) being awarded a State Government infrastructure grant of $1.3 million to support their research.

Over one million Australians suffer from some form of mental illness, making it one of the largest contributors to the overall burden of disease in this country.

CEO of NeuRA, and internationally recognised authority on research into mental illness Professor Peter Schofield said, “This grant has come at a most opportune time as we expand our research into the genetics of bipolar disorder and depression and the developmental biology of schizophrenia. It will allow us to harness the most modern approaches of molecular neuroscience to tackle the heavy burden of mental illness.”

NeuRA has been intensifying its research into mental illness over the past 12 months.

The research infrastructure grant will allow the establishment of new laboratories for the relocation of Professor Schofield’s research team from the Garvan Institute to NeuRA.

It will also enable the establishment of laboratories to support the newly created position of Australia s first Professorial Chair of Schizophrenia Research – the NISAD Chair of Schizophrenia Research – a joint initiative between NISAD, NeuRA and UNSW.

The laboratory-based research position is located at NeuRA and the new funding will allow fit-out and equipping of laboratory facilities.

“Identifying the genes that predispose an individual to developing a major psychiatric disorder such as bipolar disorder (also known as manic depressive illness) is a priority for our researchers,” Schofield said. “We are trying to understand the cause of these disorders and receiving this grant provides an excellent opportunity to further advance our research efforts.”

As a part of the State’s overall commitment to advancing treatment of mental illness, $4M has been made available to support mental illness research infrastructure among a number of research facilities affiliated with the UNSW.

In addition to the $1.3M grant to NeuRA, $1.7M has been allocated to UNSW to establish a new Clinical Professorship and a clinical academic research position in Schizophrenia and to support research into anxiety. $1M has also been provided to the Black Dog Institute for the development of the mood assessment program.