CRC for Mental Health

The CRC for Mental Health’s principal research focus is on the discovery of biomarkers for mental disorders that can be used in the diagnosis and management of disease and the development of new therapies to treat disease. Our researchers are investigating potential biomarkers across a range of neurodegenerative diseases and psychoses, including a blood test for Alzheimer’s disease and a genetic test for schizophrenia.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive brain disorder which affects functions such as memory, personality, learning and concentration. It is the most common form of dementia, making up 50 – 70% of dementia cases in Australia.

The CRC for Mental Health is researching the early detection of Alzheimer’s Disease through blood biomarkers, genetic risk markers and molecular imaging markers. The CRC is also working to develop new therapeutics for effective intervention and treatment of the disease.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive neurological disorder which affects the control of body movements. It is recognised as a complex of clinical signs, including rigidity, tremors, slowness in movement and changes in posture and cognition. There is currently no way to diagnose Parkinson’s Disease before the symptoms occur, which may be up to 10 years after the disease process actually begins.

Schizophrenia

Over 1.3 million Australians have, or will develop, schizophrenia. Early signs and symptoms are difficult to recognise, so typically the first evident sign of schizophrenia is a psychotic episode. The CRC for Mental Health is investigating biomarkers which could help diagnose schizophrenia, as well as biomarkers which could identify different sub-groups of schizophrenia. Around 33% of people with schizophrenia do not respond to the treatment options currently available. The CRC will use knowledge gained in the biomarkers project to develop targeted treatments for schizophrenia.

Mood disorders

Bipolar depression is believed to be the most debilitating phase of bipolar disease, but current treatments are limited. It is thought that bipolar depression could be associated with oxidative and inflammatory factors. The CRC for Mental Health is researching biomarkers for oxidative stress in patients with depression by examining blood samples, imaging and genetic factors. The CRC is also evaluating the effectiveness of new treatments for bipolar depression.

 

Project leaders

Neurodegeneration program (Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease)

  • Professor Kevin Barnham (University of Melbourne / Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health)
  • Professor Soumya Ghosh (Australian Neuromuscular Research Institute)
  • Professor Mal Horne (Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health)
  • Professor Ralph Martins (McCusker Research Institute / Edith Cowan University)
  • Professor Frank Mastaglia (University of Western Australia)
  • Professor Colin Masters (Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health)
  • Professor Aidan Power (Pfizer)
  • Professor Chris Rowe (Austin Health)
  • Dr Victor Streltsov (CSIRO)
  • Dr Brad Wyman (Pfizer)

Psychoses and mood disorders program (Schizophrenia and mood disorders)

  • Professor Michael Berk (Barwon Health)
  • Dr Connie Darmanin (CSIRO)
  • Professor Brian Dean (Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health)
  • Professor Ian Everall (The University of Melbourne)
  • Professor Assen Jablensky (University of Western Australia)
  • Professor Chris Pantelis (The University of Melbourne)
  • Dr Elizabeth Scarr (The University of Melbourne)
  • Dr Victor Streltsov (CSIRO)