Mental illness is responsible for one of the largest disease burdens in Australia. The major psychiatric disorders schizophrenia and bipolar disorder each affect around 1% of the population and Neuroscience Research Australia has active programs in these areas, as well as childhood developmental disorders such as autism.
My research is broadly focused on determining modifiable risk factors for the development of psychosis and mood disorders, using a combination of techniques from cognitive psychology, neuroscience, genetics, and more recently epidemiology.
The Karl Group is interested in understanding mental and neurodegenerative disorders such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The Gatt Group is interested in understanding the neuroscience and gene-environment predictors of resilience and wellbeing, and ways resilience and wellbeing can be promoted in different individuals.
The Schofield Group is interested in the genetics of mental illness and brain function. In particular, we have focused on investigating the genetic causes of bipolar disorder, a debilitating and severe psychiatric illness which affects around 1% of the Australian population. Bipolar disorder is characterised by mood swings from the extremes of elevated moods (mania) and low moods (depression), and patients often experience normal moods (euthymia) between these episodes.
Our Psychiatric Genetics group is interested in identifying and characterising genes which increase risk to mental illness, particularly bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a debilitating disease characterised by cognitive impairment due to both general and regionally specific brain dysfunction, which has genetic contributions. The Cognitive Neuronal Systems Unit of the Schizophrenia Research Laboratory uses functional brain imaging (fMRI), cognitive testing, and genetic analyses to define the relationships among thinking deficits, genetic influences, and brain dysfunction in people with schizophrenia. We also use findings from the Schizophrenia Molecular Neurobiology Lab to guide our research using brain stimulation techniques and the novel application of existing medications as add-on therapy to antipsychotics to improve thinking ability and reduce symptoms in people with schizophrenia.
The Schizophrenia Research Laboratory (jointly supported by Neuroscience Research Australia 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.