Mental Health Disorders and Neuroscience

Our Mental Health Disorders and Neuroscience team explores chronic disease patterns, risk factors, novel therapies, and effective treatments of psychiatric conditions, such as bipolar disorder and depression.

Led by Theme Leader Professor Alison Yung and Deputy Theme Leader Dr Seetal Dodd, our diverse research aims to develop new therapies, repurpose existing medicines and explore the efficacy of nutraceuticals that may lead to better mental health and metabolic outcomes, and enhanced drug safety. We explore a range of mental health issues across the life-course, from early life epigenetics to mental health and ageing.

We focus on treatment development and ensuring our research is implemented in real-world settings. This work includes several patents relating to novel drug therapies and nanomedicine laboratory immunology. Our work has also led to molecular biomedical research for commercialisation in the BioPharma industry.

Clinical trials

The recently established Centre for Research Excellence for the Development of Innovative Therapies for Psychiatric Disorders (CREDIT) which aims to create novel treatments to empower those with some of the most disabling mental disorders. It blends research in epidemiology, novel treatment discovery, and clinical trials, with researchers within and beyond IMPACT.

Drug safety and discovery

We research drugs in clinical trials to evaluate the effectiveness of medications such as N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) to help stop tobacco smoking and for use in first-episode psychosis. Bipolar disorder drug repurposing studies include medications like Candesartan, often used for the treatment of high blood pressure or heart failure.

Drug discovery in our research also extends to a range of natural bioactive and biomacromolecules. We explore these by targeting apoptotic and inflammatory cell signalling molecules in cancer, chronic inflammation and neurodegenerative disorders.

Neurotransmitters

Our research includes brain neurotransmitters such as Relaxin-3, which plays a role in controlling both stress and feeding behaviours, such as salt overconsumption, that can contribute to hypertension and obesity.

Early-life environments

We have conducted extensive research with twin babies and adults, allowing us to explore the effects of the early-life environment in the risk for neurodevelopmental disorders. Our research includes conditions such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and cerebral palsy.

Prenatal life and neurophysiological development

Continuing our lifespan focus, we investigate the impact of exposure to an adverse environment for the fetus during pregnancy, for example, preterm birth, gestational diabetes or growth restriction. These studies explore both prenatal and postnatal brain development and use a range of novel approaches, including non-invasive brain stimulation.

World Bipolar Day

We proudly support the annual World Bipolar Day on March 30th, the birthday of Vincent Van Gogh, who was posthumously diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. Watch our previous World Bipolar Day event Vox Pops here and a Q&A session here

Team profiles:

Professor Alison Yung Theme Leader
Dr Seetal Dodd Deputy Theme Leader
Dr Craig Smith Group Leader - Neuroscience of Stress and Mental Health
Professor Jeffrey Craig Group Leader - Early Life Epigenetics
A/Prof. Julia Pitcher Group Leader - Prenatal Life and Neurophysiological Development (PLaND)
Dr Krys Mossop Group Leader - The Centre of Research Excellence for the Development of Innovative Therapies for Psychiatric Disorders