Brain and Mental Health

Researchers within the Brain and Mental Health Program are working to understand the intricacies of some of the most complicated structures within the human body. In understanding the molecular mechanisms which dictate the functionality of the brain and nervous system, we can begin to explain its dysfunctions and associated health conditions.

Members within the Program focus on mental health service delivery strategies, as well as the biological mechanisms of specific mental health conditions. This way, novel solutions can be imparted in order to optimise diagnosis, intervention and treatments. The Program is currently working to establish an optogenetics platform. Optogenetics is a specialised technique for neuromodulation, which can be used to study individual brain cells in living tissue. These facilities will lead the way for Australian research into this burgeoning research method. Researchers focus on the disease areas of:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Stroke
  • Affective and Addictive Disorders
  • Preclinical Neurobiology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Cognition, Development and Ageing
  • Implementation and Models of Care Research
  • Mental Health Nursing

The Program maintains a strong translational research ethic, and works closely with local area health systems, such as the Hunter New England Mental Health Service and the NSW Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health.

The Program strongly supports the next generation of researchers, currently funding 14 RHD scholarships across the research areas. Importantly, the Program hosts a number of clinical PhD students, a key strategy for the translation of basic science into medical applications. In addition, researchers host regular public forums and foster national and international collaborations.

Researchers in the HMRI Brain and Mental Health Program are affiliated with the University’s Priority Research Centre for Translational Neuroscience and Mental Health. The translational research focus has positioned the PRC strongly within HMRI, and facilitated strong engagement with the health care sector. The Program also includes the HMRI Stroke Research Group, and incorporates the NSW Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health at Orange.

Program leader:
Professor Alan Brichta, The University of Newcastle

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