The School of Psychiatry is widely reputed as the pre-eminent psychiatric research department in the country, and one of the leading university groups internationally. It is a dynamic organisation with a reputation for excellence and success in attracting nationally competitive research grant funding (for example, housing two of the prestigious NHMRC program grants). It is the only school at UNSW Australia which has four Scientia Professors.
The School covers a broad range of significant areas of research including dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease; bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety disorders; schizophrenia; perinatal, childhood and young adult mental health; refugee and asylum seekers mental illness; and work place mental health. It participates in teaching UNSW’s undergraduate medical students and administers postgraduate research and coursework programs including the Masters of Forensic Mental Health.
There are two formal centres within the School of Psychiatry: i) the UNSW Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA); and ii) the Commonwealth-funded Dementia Collaborative Research Centre (DCRC).
Psychiatry is one of the major members of the Mindgardens consortium and will be centrally involved in the themes of mental health and ageing. There are already strong collaborative links with Psychology, NDARC, Biomedical Engineering, NeuRA and Black Dog Institute.
Key research projects
Genetic variants that alter brain development
A strong collaboration between the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) and Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) has resulted in exciting work being undertaken investigating the genetics of brain ageing.
This work has facilitated successful collaborations with other national and international researchers, who have joined forces to examine important brain ageing questions in huge samples of individuals from around the world. Recently, in the eminent journal, Nature, our work contributed to a study of over 30,000 people, which identified novel genetic variants for brain structure volumes. This work lays the foundation for future studies seeking to understand how genetics contributes to brain structure and function, and may suggest pathways that are involved in neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disease.
Kids and Sibs Study
Professor Philip Mitchell
One in 50 Australians suffer bipolar disorder yet there is still no way of identifying a person in the very early stages, or, who is at high risk. This longitudinal study looks at all the factors that may contribute to the illness, including a patient’s DNA, brain imaging and psychological testing
Like Father Like Son
A national approach to violence, antisocial behavior and the mental health of men and boys” – funded through a grant of over $2,600,000 from the Movember Foundation for 2015-2017, this collaboration includes project leader Prof Mark Dadds and others from the UNSW Dept of Psychology; Prof Rhoshel Lenroot of UNSW Psychiatry, NeuRA, and SESLHD, and a national network of clinicians, and researchers, and policy leaders.
The project will generate and disseminate knowledge and effective practices for the promotion of mental health in men and boys in order to reduce early-onset violence, antisocial behaviour and mental health problems.
Schizophrenia Research Laboratory
Our Neurobiology Laboratory is dedicated to defining the biological basis for schizophrenia and translating these discoveries into novel treatments for people with schizophrenia.
We have an independent, innovative and productive clinical neuroscience research program employing neurodevelopment, neuropathology and neurogenetics to better understand the biology of schizophrenia. We have successfully used neuroimaging, blood biomarkers and cognitive approaches in conducting clinical trials with novel therapeutics. We help teach, train and build teams of scientists and clinicians to develop the biological and analytic tools and work force critical to transforming psychiatry from a generic treatment approach to a more personalized treatment approach aimed at the underling biological causes.
Together with the carers and consumers, we can improve the treatment options for people with schizophrenia helping them to improve their lives.
Professor Henry Brodaty AO – Brief Bio
Henry Brodaty is Scientia Professor of Ageing and Mental Health, Director of the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre and Co-Director of the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing at the University of New South Wales; and
Senior Psychogeriatrician and Head of the Memory Disorders Clinic in the Aged Care Psychiatry Service at Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney.
Professor Brodaty is President of the International Psychogeriatric Association and was previously chairman of Alzheimer’s Disease International, and president of Alzheimer’s Australia and Alzheimer’s Australia (NSW). He has published over 400 papers, book chapters and books and sits on several state and commonwealth committees related to ageing, dementia and mental health.
Philip Bowden Mitchell AM, MB BS (Hons I), MD, FRANZCP, FRCPsych
Philip Mitchell is Scientia Professor and Head of the School of Psychiatry at University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia; Member, Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Research Committee; Vice-President (Governance), International Society for Bipolar Disorders; and Board Member, Black Dog Institute.
His research and clinical interests are in bipolar disorder and depression, with a particular focus on: predictors of the development of bipolar disorder in at-risk individuals; molecular genetics of bipolar disorder; pharmacological and psychological treatments for bipolar disorder and depression; clinical phenomenology of bipolar disorder and depression; and neurostimulatory therapies for depression. Professor Mitchell has published over 450 peer-reviewed papers or book chapters and is lead investigator on an Australian NHMRC-funded Program Grant on depression and bipolar disorder. He serves on the editorial boards of ‘Psychiatric Genetics’, ‘CNS Drugs’, ‘CNS Spectrums’, ‘Frontiers in Behavioral and Psychiatric Genetics’, ‘Future Neurology’, ‘International Journal of Bipolar Disorders’, ‘Medicine Today’ and ‘Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology’.
In 2002 he was awarded the Senior Research Award of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP). In 2004, he received the Founders Medal of the Australasian Society for Psychiatry Research. In 2008, he was invited to give the endowed Samuel Novey Lecture in Psychological Medicine at Johns Hopkins University, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. In the 2010 Australia Day honours list Professor Mitchell was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia for service to medical education, particularly in the field of psychiatry, as an academic, researcher and practitioner, through contributions to the understanding, treatment and prevention of mental illnesses. In 2013 he was awarded the College Citation of the RANZCP for exceptional service to psychiatry.