CRC for Mental Health

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 to provide PhD scholarship

July 11, 2014adminLatest 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, 2014adminUncategorizedComments 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.

Prof Brian Dean appointed Pyschosis Program Coordinator

Professor Brian Dean has accepted an appointment as Coordinator of the Psychosis Program for the CRC for Mental Health. Prof Dean has an outstanding record of achievement and leadership in the field of biological psychiatry and a track record of success in the translation of research discoveries into useful innovations in the field of clinical diagnostics. We look forward to the application of his talent and effort in this new role within the CRC.

Professor Ashley Bush on ABC Radio Canberra

February 27, 2014MichaelUncategorized0

Date: February 2014

Chief Scientific Officer Professor Ashley Bush appeared on ABC Radio 666 Canberra discussing recent research by the CRC for Mental Health into the link between anaemia and Alzheimer’s disease. The interview was hosted by Alex Sloan and in conversation with Professor Tony Peacock, CEO of the Cooperative Research Centre Association.

You can listen to the interview below.

Arcitecta and the CRC for Mental Health to improve the capture and management of data from clinical research

February 11, 2014adminUncategorized0

Date: 31 January 2014

Arcitecta, the company behind Mediaflux – the most flexible and comprehensive metadata management platform for complex, distributed data management – is developing a product to improve the capture and management of data from clinical research worldwide.

Using the Cooperative Research Centre for Mental Health’s real data from volunteers, Arcitecta will develop a new software product that will:

  • enable clinicians to capture clinical data at the bedside, and in a form that is easily accessible to them and other non-expert IT users,
  • easily import and export new and existing data,
  • enable multiple research institutions to collaborate on multiple trials by allowing them to feed data into the repository for this new product, and,
  • be open, allowing users to develop additional functions, as and when they need it.

Read more

Coverage in the press:

Capturing biomarker metadata for mental health research, PULSE+IT Magazine, 3 April 2014.

Link found between Alzheimer’s disease and anaemia

January 14, 2014adminUncategorized0

Date: 14 January 2014

CRC for Mental Health scientists have discovered a link between Alzheimer’s disease and anaemia, in a study which has the potential to improve the quality of life for people with these major diseases.

The study tested iron levels and related blood chemistry in over 1100 volunteers. The scientists compared results between groups who either had Alzheimer’s disease, had complaints about their memory and healthy volunteers. The scientists found that having Alzheimer’s disease caused a lowering of blood hemoglobin levels, and was a major risk factor for developing anaemia. It is already known that anaemia worsens cognitive decline.

“Alzheimer’s disease and anaemia are the two most common diagnoses in nursing homes, each diagnosis affecting more than half of nursing home residents” said Professor Ashley Bush, Chief Scientist at the CRC for Mental Health and professor at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health.

“Anaemia is a deficiency in red blood cells and can be caused by a variety of factors such as poor diet or blood loss. Older people more frequently develop a type of anaemia that cannot be treated by any available drugs or supplements. We’ve shown that Alzheimer’s disease may be the explanation for this treatment-resistant anaemia, as it is itself a new cause for anaemia that cannot be explained by these other factors.”

“Common symptoms of anaemia include concentration difficulties, fatigue and mood changes. So the research suggests that Alzheimer’s disease  lowers hemoglobin and leads to an increased risk for anaemia, which in turn can be having an affect on memory, concentration and learning.”

The research provides a new insight into the mysterious treatment-resistant anaemia of old age.

“The treatment resistant ’idiopathic’ anaemia of old age responds poorly to iron and other supplements, and to other drugs that boost hemoglobin. If we can understand why people with Alzheimer’s disease develop this unexplained form of anaemia, we may be able to target treatments for both disorders,” said co-author Dr Noel Faux.

“We think treating the anaemia will improve general wellbeing including levels of energy, fatigue and potentially some slowing of cognitive decline. This could have an enormous impact on our handling of two major disorders of retirement age.”

The researchers used data from the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers and Lifestyle Study (AIBL), a longitudinal study which is following over 1100 volunteers aged 60 and over.

The results have been published in the prestigious journal Molecular Psychiatry. The full paper is available at