What are your research interests?
Cognitive neuroscience aims to understand normal and impaired brain function as it occurs in mental illness. This understanding is fundamental when aiming to improve the treatment of mental illness. My research interests include exploring the genetics and molecular mechanisms underlying mental illness and how they impact on brain functions, which give rise to the symptoms commonly seen in mental illness.
Why did you get into reseach?
The frustration of how little we know about mental illness compared to other medical conditions has frustrated me as a doctor and continues to motivate me in my work as scientist.
What would be the ultimate goal for your research?
Finding a cure for conditions like autism, schizophrenia, depression or bipolar disorder would be the ultimate goal.
Professor Schall's career began in Germany as a psychologist with a strong interest in neuroscience. The realisation that neuroscience can help to better understand mental illness motivated him to become a psychiatrist. He earned his academic credentials in Germany by completing a PhD in Neuroscience, a MD in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, and DSc (Habilitation) in Biological Psychology & Neuropsychology.
He joined the University of Newcastle in 1999 as Senior Lecturer where he developed a successful research pogram investigating conditions like schizophrenia, autism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. As a clinician he sees patients at the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service of Hunter New England Health and EDUCARE.
Throughout his career Professor Schall has attracted more than $9.5 million in competitive research funding. This includes the successful application as Principal Investigator for the largest mental health Project Grant ($1.5m) that was funded by the NHMRC in 2008 to conduct a multi-centre study into prodromal schizophrenia over 5 years.
He has been awarded 52 competitive grants in the past 10 years. His new position as Chair in Schizophrenia Research is supported by NSW Department of Science & Technology, NSW Department of Health, SRI, the Hunter Medical Research Institute, and the University of Newcastle with $3.2m for 2012-2017. In February 2013, Web of Science recorded a total of 168 career publications for the period of 1986-2013 (74 as first/last author) with a total of 1,227 citations. Google Scholar calculates Ulrich’s h-index as 26.
Improving treatment of mental illness is gradual process and can be painstakingly slow. However, every new discovery can potentially lead to better treatment with less adverse side effects for those in need in our community. Hence, the future focus lies in discovering what drives mental illness and how to prevent and even cure it.
- Standard clinical and neuropsychological assessment tools
- Psychophysiological (EEG-based) brain function measures
- Structural and functional brain imaging techniques