CRC for Mental Health

Early career researcher activities

January 12, 2015MelanieUncategorized0

The CRC held a two day workshop for our early career researchers in December, covering research translation, data quality and analysis and communication skills.

As part of the workshops, early career researchers worked together to develop a pitch for new collaborative projects which used the outcomes of their current research. Congratulations to PhD students Cassandra Wannan (UoM) and Sabine Bird (UWA) on their winning pitch, which combined Sabine’s research interest in the role of hormones in cognition as it relates to Alzheimer’s disease with Cassandra’s research interest in the role of brain structure in treatment resistant schizophrenia.

Early career researchers also visited a Mercy Health’s  aged care facility, continuing our highly successful knowledge exchange project. The early career researchers provided information on their work, while also spending time interacting with staff and residents of the facility gaining a deep understanding of the aged care sector and how Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and psychoses can present in an aged are setting. The CRC was represented in an exceptional manner by Tenielle Porter, Eugene Hone and Florence Lim from Edith Cowan University, David Skvarc from Barwon Health, Sabine Bird from University of Western Australia and Edith Drajkopyl from the University of Melbourne supported by industry partner Cogstate. We wish to thank Mercy Health’s staff who continue to provide an insightful experience during our visits.

Holiday period

December 23, 2014MelanieLatest News, UncategorizedComments Off

From all at the CRC for Mental Health, we’d like to wish you a safe, happy and healthy holiday. We look forward to working with you in 2015.

Please note out offices will be closed from 24 December – 5 January.

New scanner will enable more detailed brain imaging

CRC researchers have commenced a new project, using the only two whole body 7-Tesla MRI scanners in the southern hemisphere. The project will use the ultra-high field scanners to investigate metals and proteins in the brain which could be involved in Alzheimer’s disease, with possible extension into other disease areas.

The CRC project involves collaboration with CSIRO, the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Austin Health and the University of Melbourne.

Launching one of the scanners at the University of Melbourne, Senator the Hon Scott Ryan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education) said, “The 7T whole body MRI will provide researchers in Australia with access to world leading imaging technology”. We’re very pleased to be able to count CRC researchers among those using this cutting edge technology.

More information about the 7 Tesla MRI. Senator Ryan’s speech from the launch.

7T MRI, CRC for Mental Health

7T MRI, CRC for Mental Health

7T MRI, CRC CFO volunteering

CRC CFO volunteering as healthy control for 7 T MRI protocol and development



CRC Project Leader A/Prof Elizabeth Scarr named in 100 Women of Influence

October 2, 2014MelanieUncategorized0


Dr Elizabeth Scarr, CRC for Mental HealthAssociate Professor Elizabeth Scarr has been announced as a winner in The Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards for 2014. Associate Professor Scarr has been recognised in the Innovation category for her contribution to the understanding and treatment of schizophrenia.

“Improving the quality of life for people with schizophrenia is an essential task for Australian society and science,” said Associate Prof Scarr, who is a program leader at the Cooperative Research Centre for Mental Health and the Department of Psychiatry in the University of Melbourne.

“Schizophrenia affects around 285,000 Australians, and about 30% of those people do not respond to currently available treatments. My research seeks to improve our understanding of the condition and develop new treatments which enable more people with schizophrenia to live independent lives.”

Now in its third year, the 100 Women of Influence Awards celebrate outstanding women from a wide variety of sectors across Australia. There are ten categories: Board/Management, Public Policy, Young Leader, Social Enterprise and Not-for-profit, Philanthropy, Global Influence, Innovation, Local/Regional Community, Diversity and Business Enterprise. Entrants into the awards were assessed by a panel of esteemed judges and have been recognised based on their outstanding ability to demonstrate vision, leadership, innovation and action in and beyond their fields.

Gail Kelly, Westpac Group Chief Executive Officer said, “The breadth and calibre of our 100 Women of Influence for 2014 is remarkable.

“It is such a privilege to be able to recognise and celebrate the outstanding contributions these women are making to Australia. The 2014 winners will join the now 300 strong, prestigious alumni of these awards.

“With over 40% of leadership roles at Westpac filled by females, I am fortunate to be surrounded by inspirational women every day.  We are blessed to have such great numbers of influential women doing incredible things in many industries and organisations right across Australia.

Fairfax Media CEO Greg Hywood said: “This year’s 100 Women of Influence join a growing movement that is changing our society for the better in a myriad of ways. Thanks and congratulations to everyone for the contribution they are making.

“Many of this year’s finalists were nominated by men. It’s a powerful development to see men wholeheartedly supporting women across all the categories. In order to move the dial, more men need to step up and take an active interest, alongside women, in addressing gender equality.”

On Wednesday 22 October, a gala event will be held at Sydney’s Town Hall to celebrate these women and the significant impact that each has made within their chosen field. The ten category winners and overall winner for the year will also be announced on the evening.


For further information please

Coverage in the press

Australia’s 100 Women of Influence 2014, Australian Financial Review, 2 October 2014.

100 Women of Influence Awards showcase remarkable array of talent, Sydney Morning Herald, 2 October 2014.

Interview with Louise Maher on ABC 666 Radio Canberra:

Chief Scientific Officer wins Victoria prize for Science and Innovation

August 27, 2014MichaelLatest NewsComments Off

The 2014 Victoria Prize for Science and Innovation in Life Sciences has been awarded to Professor Ashley Bush for his outstanding contributions to the field of translational neuroscience.

The award recognises Professor Bush’s work exploring how key proteins and metals interact to contribute to degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Victorian Innovation Minister Louise Asher in announcing the prize said, “Professor Bush is internationally renowned for his outstanding body of work on translational neuroscience, which has included findings on the cause of Alzheimer’s disease and the importance of metal biology in degenerative brain diseases.”

Professor Bush is the Chief Scientific Officer of the Cooperative Research Centre for Mental Health, providing scientific oversight and advice on the CRC’s research into mental health diseases, psychoses and mood disorders. He is also Director of the Oxidation Biology Unit at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, and an NHMRC Australia Fellow.

The Victoria Prizes are awarded annually by the Victorian Government to outstanding science leaders in Victoria. They celebrate leadership, determination, endeavour and creativity, and highlight the world-class scientific research happening in Victoria.

Prof Ashley Bush CRC Mental Health Victoria Prize

Victorian Innovation Minister Louise Asher, Professor Ashley Bush, Professor Frank Caruso (winner for Physical Sciences) and the 2014 Victoria Fellowship winners. Photo credit: Veski,

Cogstate provides PhD scholarship

July 11, 2014MelanieLatest News, UncategorizedComments Off

Cogstate Ltd, a commercial enduser participant of the CRC, is increasing its contribution to the CRC by providing an industry PhD scholarship. Edith Drajkopyl will be supported by the scholarship to work on the project “Concussion in sport”.

Professor Paul Maruff, Cogstate’s Chief Scientific Officer, said “Concussions that occur in sports are important health issues; they have significant consequences for mental health and have even been linked to dementia. However, there has been very little systematic study of this injury. Edith is a talented young scientist and Cogstate has been actively involved in assisting sporting organisations with their concussion management programs. Our partnership with the CRC for Mental Health now provides an incredible foundation for Edith’s work to significant contributions to understanding this important issue.”

This scholarship adds to the substantial contribution Cogstate makes to the CRC’s education program, providing students with advice and guidance on cognitive testing, as well as access to the company’s cognitive tests.

For more information about Cogstate, visit

VicNode allocation for data storage

July 9, 2014MelanieUncategorizedComments Off

The CRC for Mental Health has been awarded a merit allocation of 3TB on the VicNode storage platform, the Victorian arm of the Research Data Storage Infrastructure (RDSI) project. This allocation will allow the CRC to easily store and securely share our schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease data collections.

The CRC’s Biobank collections will be stored on VicNode and accessed via the Mediaflux software platform. This streamlined design will enable efficient cross-project sharing of data and facilitate new collaborations with Australian and international researchers.

For more information about VicNode, please visit

Public event – Thinking ahead: Embedding research in aged care

May 19, 2014MichaelLatest NewsComments Off

Monday 16 June
6:30 – 8:00pm

The University Club of Western Australia
Entrance #1, Hackett Drive, Crawley


How does Australia’s aged care system benefit from the latest scientific research? What are the opportunities for the future?

James Lush from ABC Radio 720 Perth will host this panel discussion presented by the CRC for Mental Health. Bringing together researchers, clinicians, and aged care experts, the event will explore how scientific research can be embedded in the aged care system.

Speakers include:

  • Prof Ashley Bush (CRC for Mental Health)
  • Prof Ralph Martins AO (McCusker Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, Edith Cowan University)
  • W/Prof Assen Jablensky (University of Western Australia)
  • Prof Fran McInerney (Mercy Health)

The event is free of charge, and all are welcome.

This event took place in June 2014. Information on the event is available here.

Dr Blaine Roberts awarded prestigious Challenge grant

May 11, 2014MichaelLatest News, UncategorizedComments Off

Date: May 2014

Dr Blaine Roberts has been awarded a prestigious international grant for his research into the validation of a developmental blood test for Alzheimer’s disease. The $140,000 Challenge Grant is awarded by the Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Initiative at the New York Academy of Sciences in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation. Dr Roberts’ will undertake the research at the Florey Institute for Neuroscience and Mental Health, in conjunction with the CRC for Mental Health.

Dr Roberts’ team has identified three plasma proteins with potential application as biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers will test the association of these proteins with amyloid plaques in the brain. They hope to develop a test that could diagnose Alzheimer’s disease 15 to 20 years before the appearance of symptoms. This would significantly reduce the cost of patient recruitment for clinical trials, and help identify potential therapies to treat those individuals who are most likely to progress to disease in the future.

For more information, please see Florey Institute news here.

CRC for Mental Health submission to review of mental health services and programmes

Date: April 2014

In March 2014, the Australian Government asked the National Mental Health Commission to conduct a national Review of Mental Health Services and programmes. The terms of reference defined programmes and services as including prevention, early detection and treatment of mental illness.

The CRC for Mental Health made a submission emphasising the importance of research into mental illnesses. In particular, the submission reiterated the CRC’s support for the McKeon Review finding that Australia should “embed research in the health system.” We believe this shared learning between research, clinical practice and services has the potential to improve the effectiveness of how mental illnesses are treated.

The CRC’s submission also indicated the value of a collaborative approach to research into mental health, especially in “leveraging government investment with private sector investment, as well as embedding end-users in the research process.”

The Commission’s final review report will be provided to the Government by 30 November 2014, and will be available here.