Major Challenges

Through world-class research Mindgardens will achieve an accelerated understanding of the leading causes of disability: mental illness and ageing.

The Mindgardens Neurosciences Project has identified critical medical challenges under the six themes of: Depression, Drugs and alcohol, Behavioural change and the developing brain, Dementia, Healthy ageing and Neurodegenerative disorders. Solutions to each challenge have been documented and in many instances research has already commenced to deliver better care and cure outcomes.


Mindgardens will leverage the following enablers to address the identified key medical themes and challenges.

1. Building new knowledge through linkage with frontline clinics

Tertiary assessment and treatment clinics will be built across all areas of neuroscience. Too often patients are siloed and do not get full assessment across disciplines. This means individuals have multiple contacts into the health system and information is not shared across health professionals, and patients and families. Many patients do not get the right diagnosis especially where co-morbidities are present, multiple health visits are wasteful and intervention is not early. Mindgardens will set up ‘one point of entry’ clinics for psychiatry, drug and alcohol use, neuroscience, brain injury, and dementia. Patients will be assessed across all relevant areas at the same time, as indicated. These clinics will be housed in one front-facing patient setting, staffed by best clinicians and researchers, and supported by visiting doctors, and students and health care workers. These will also serve to be ‘living teaching spaces’ for both training health care specialists and as part of ongoing training for health workers across the state.

2. Building the best ICT systems to support research, track patients and maintain healthy citizens

Mindgardens aims to deliver high-quality, cutting-edge research linking electronic health data with other forms of research and routinely collected data, as well as build capacity in health informatics research (the Farr Institute model). Mindgardens will extend this vision by aiming to offer research and clinic online platforms that support continuity of care and health care interventions. The Mindgardens ICT systems will aim to deliver Development of new data sets of relevance to neuroscience from patients, virtual patients, including the collection of patient cohorts for all neuroscience disciplines. These will be collected over time and will form data sets for use for all scientists and clinicians across NSW. These rich data sets will combine genetic, clinical, behavioural, and self-report data, and may include data from wearable devices and social media.

  • Linkage to existing data including health data.
  • The development of web interventions for common risk factors such as smoking, exercise, cognitive behaviour therapy, behavioural activation that can be used/customised by scientists and mental practitioners across NSW.
  • Automated randomised controlled trial methodology linked to web and control interventions.
  • Capacity to offer continuity of care by tracking all individuals longitudinally, through web technology, mobile phones and delivering clinician referral and alerts, referral to NGO support and services (e.g. Lifeline), and to hospitals, GPs and LHDs.
  • Public access to behavioural web interventions for the whole of the NSW population.

3. Bringing leading Neuroscience research to life through the full NSW health portfolio and workforce

Mindgardens recognises that researchers are relatively poor at translation i.e. putting into practice what is known, typically because researchers lack access to clinical systems and service delivery. Mindgardens will set up frameworks for translation that involve distributing what is known about the major brain disorders through to the NSW health workforce. For professional continuing education this will involve the University and hospital partners. For other health workers and NGO workers this will require a dedicated education/translation team, with expertise in adult education and communication and marketing.

4. Building new and innovative collaboration models across the neuroscience ecosystems, both within NSW and internationally

Developing a consultation driven state-wide research and health translation strategies will be crucial to developing a collaborative culture in which core platforms can underpin research, wherever it is undertaken. A key theme of the Mindgardens concept will be the building of innovative primary and translational research collaborations across the neuroscience sector including leading neuroscientists, clinicians and specialists, and their associated agencies and organisations. This is described further in the following sections.