CRC for Mental Health

Cytox signs research agreement for collaboration to further refine diagnostic SNPs for Alzheimer’s disease

Cytox Ltd, an innovative developer of assays for risk assessment and prediction of dementia, has entered into a collaborative research arrangement with leading Australian neurodegenerative disease research organisations – the Cooperative Research Centre for Mental Health (CRCMH) and Edith Cowan University (ECU), partner organisations to the Australian Imaging, Biomarker & Lifestyle Flagship Study of Ageing (AIBL). The CRCMH undertakes research in respect of the early identification and treatment of neurodegenerative disease, psychoses and mood disorders. ECU leads the genetic programme within AIBL, a study to discover which biomarkers, cognitive characteristics and lifestyle factors determine subsequent development of symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease. This agreement follows on from the recent funding award by Innovate UK to Cytox, Birmingham University and UCL.

Dr. Richard Pither, CEO of Cytox commented, “AIBL is well established as one of the largest, well-characterised, longitudinal cohorts of healthy ageing and cognitive decline in the world. We have already identified candidate single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) based on next generation sequencing (NGS) studies. This agreement will enable us to further refine SNP selection via NGS sequencing on highly characterised patient populations, through access to selected subjects from the AIBL cohort. CRCMH has previously funded research by ECU on whole exome sequencing of AIBL subjects and analysis of mTOR pathway genotypes and their relationship to Alzheimer’s disease clinical, cognitive and amyloid imaging profiles. This partnership is, therefore, the perfect fit with our aim of developing a genetic variation panel for Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) risk stratification. We are confident that the collaboration will contribute significantly to improving the selection of SNPs that are diagnostic and prognostic for Alzheimer’s disease.”

“CRCMH’s main research focus on developing biomarkers which assist in diagnosing these debilitating neurodegenerative diseases before the onset of mental decline,” added Professor Ian Cooke, CEO, CRCMH. “Having already targeted mTOR pathway genotypes with our research partners ECU and AIBL, we are delighted to be working with Cytox, who have recently been awarded Innovate UK funding for their research in this area, and whose approach closely aligns with ours. We look forward to this partnership providing further meaningful diagnostic and prognostic data.”

Australian Science Shines for Pfizer

The CRC for Mental Health was highlighted in the Australian Trade Commission’s case study, ‘Australian Science Shines for Pfizer’. The article features Dr. Daniel Grant (Head of External R&D Innovation Pfizer Australia), as he speaks about Pfizer’s involvement in Australian science, saying “Australia has some of the world’s best academics in areas such as oncology, immunology and neurology.” He believes that “creating and maintaining an operating environment that recognises innovation and in turn can attract the growing investment attached to the discovery and development of, in particular, biologics or large molecules, has the potential to return significant benefits to the Australian economy.”

Pfizer is an important industry participant of the CRC for Mental Health. Dr. Grant describes the work of the CRC as “very exciting” and reaffirms Pfizer’s interest in looking “to grow our interaction with the collaborating partners and in doing so progress the important work of discovering early biomarkers that have the potential to advance the development of new therapies for the treatment of neurodegenerative disease, psychoses, and mood disorders.” He emphasizes that Pfizer has been an “active participant in many of the Australian government’s programs that are designed to support collaborations between companies and academic research groups, such as the Australian Research Council Linkage grants and CRC program,” highlighting the importance of collaborative research in Australia.

Read the full article



Arcitecta and the CRC for Mental Health Building Data Management Platform to Power Collaborative Data Management

Date: 17 October 2014

The CRC for Mental Health appears in an article on PULSE+IT Magazine highlighting the collaboration between Arcitecta and the CRC for Mental Health in building a web-based repository for the capture, access and query of clinical observation data from longitudinal studies of biomarkers. The article also discusses the work being done for the national Research Data Storage Infrastructure project.

Read the full article


Prof Ashley Bush on ABC Classic FM

ashley_bushDate: October 2014
Program: ABC Classic FM Midday

Chief Scientific Officer Professor Ashley Bush appeared on ABC Classic FM on 9 October as part of the ABC’s network-wide “Mental As” campaign for National Mental Health Week. He discussed current Alzheimer’s disease research with host Margaret Throsby.

You can listen to the interview here.



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

Date: September 2014

DrElizabethScarrAssociate 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. 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.

You can find more information here.

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:


KnowHow magazine

Date: May 2014


The CRC for Mental Health appears in the May 2014 edition of the Cooperative Research Centres Association’s KnowHow magazine. Page six of the magazine features an article on CRC for Mental Health research linking Alzheimer’s disease and anaemia.

You can read KnowHow here.


Professor Ashley Bush on ABC Radio Canberra

Date: February 2014
Program: ABC Canberra

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

Date: 31 January 2014
Release by: CRC for Mental Health and Arcitecta

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.

The project is being funded by the Department of State Development, Business and Innovation in Victoria, with in-kind contributions from Arcitecta and the CRC for Mental Health

Read the full release

Visit Arcitecta’s website.

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

Date: 14 January 2014
Release by: CRC for Mental Health and the Florey Institute for Neuroscience & Mental Health

Australian 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.

Read the full release

Coverage in the press:

Blood link to Alzheimer’s may lead to new treatments, ABC AM program, 15 January
Anaemia linked to Alzheimer’s disease, researchers hope finding will improve lives of sufferers, ABC News, 15 January


Glimpsing the light within

Date: December 2013
Article by: Mercy Health

In Australia there are over 321,600 older people living with dementia. Following on from the Depression and Dementia event in September, this article in Mercy Health’s “Our Voice” publication discusses experiences of caring for a person shared by researchers, residents, family members, staff and community at the panel discussion held at Mercy Place Parkville.

From "Our Voice," Mercy Health 2013.

From “Our Voice,” Mercy Health 2013.

Mercy Health, Our Voice article Dec 2013


Depression and Dementia community event

Date: September 2013
Release by: Mercy Health

As part of Dementia Awareness Week, Mercy Health and the CRC for Mental Health are hosting Depression + Dementia, an interactive panel discussion for the community, aged care residents, aged care staff, family and friends.

Attendees will have the opportunity to learn about current dementia research, care options for those affected by depression and dementia, and how to recognise signs and symptoms of each condition. A key element of the event will be an opportunity for the audience to ask questions relevant to them, their loved ones and their community.

Read the full release

You can listen to a recording of the event here.


Science and Dementia

Date: 6 August 2013
Release by: CRC for Mental Health

One Australian is diagnosed with dementia every six minutes. Hear about the progress Australian scientists are making towards early diagnosis and treatment at the free public event ‘Science and Dementia’.

Hosted by science journalist and broadcaster Robyn Williams AM, from Radio National’s The Science Show, ‘Science and Dementia’ will feature insights from the lived experience, clinicians and researchers. Presented as part of National Science Week, the event will be held 14 August at 6.30pm at The Melbourne Brain Centre.

This Inspiring Australia initiative is supported by the Australian Government as part of National Science Week.

You can watch a video of the event here.


Mercy Health submission on the care of Australians living with dementia

Date: June 2013
Release by: Mercy Health

In 2013, the Australian Senate Committee on Community Affairs requested submissions for an “Inquiry into the care and management of younger and older Australians living with dementia and behavioural and psychiatric symptoms of dementia (BPSD)”.

Mercy Health, an end-user Participant  of the CRC for Mental Health, made an independent submission to the inquiry.  Mercy Health’s submission emphasised the value of a multidisciplinary approach to meeting the needs of people with the condition and those of their families. Mercy Health’s submission also indicated that front-line care staff such as GPs and residential aged-care staff need “ongoing support and education” in the etiology of dementia, as well as its diagnosis and care.

You can read Mercy Health’s submission to the enquiry here.

The final report from the Committee on Community Affairs will be available here when released.


Inquiry into the early diagnosis and prevention of dementia

Date: June 2013

In 2012, the Australian Parliamentary House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health and Ageing held an inquiry into dementia early diagnosis and intervention practices in Australia.

The CRC made a submission to this inquiry detailing the key challenges in this research field and how early intervention can improve the quality of life for people with dementia. The submission described the inability to diagnose dementia before substantial cognitive decline has occurred as a key roadblock for the prevention and effective treatment of dementia at present.

Several CRC Participant organisations also made independent submissions. You can read submissions from CSIRO, the National Ageing Research Institute, and Pfizer Australia on the linked pages.

The final report from the House Standing Committee on Health and Ageing encouraged ongoing government and non-government support for dementia research. It also endorsed the importance of research and awareness raising about preventative lifestyle factors for dementia.

The final report from the House Standing Committee on Health and Ageing is available here.

Read the CRC for Mental Health’s submission here.


Geelong residents to lead the way towards a treatment for bipolar depression

Date: 8 March 2013
Release by: CRC for Mental Health, Barwon Health

Geelong researchers are set to undertake a world-first trial of a new treatment for bipolar depression. The treatment involves both a compound called N-acetyl cysteine, known as NAC, which is thought to reduce the effect of underlying physical brain changes, and a combination of potentially energy boosting nutraceutical agents including NAC.

Professor Berk’s team is now taking a wait list for the trials, which will begin in April 2013. To volunteer, or for more information, contact 03 4215 3309 or email

Read the full release


Art, science and schizophrenia (radio)

Date: 4 November 2012
Program by: Radio National, “All in the Mind”

(L-R) Emma Last (The Dax Centre), Prof Jayashri Kulkarni (Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre), Prof Brian Dean (CRC for Mental Health and Florey Institute), Brendan Clarke (Mental Illness Fellowship Victoria), and Lynne Malcolm (ABC Radio National).

(L-R) Emma Last (The Dax Centre), Prof Jayashri Kulkarni (Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre), Prof Brian Dean (CRC for Mental Health and Florey Institute), Brendan Clarke (Mental Illness Fellowship Victoria), and Lynne Malcolm (ABC Radio National).

Hosted by Lynne Malcolm, this one hour radio show explores how scientists, clinicians and artists are collaborating to improve the experience of those living with schizophrenia. The show features insights from Prof Brian Dean (CRC for Mental Health), Emma Last (The Dax Centre), Prof Jayashri Kulkarni (Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre) and Brendan Clarke (Mental Illness Fellowship Victoria).

Listen to the full program


Talking mo’s, mental health and young men’s wellbeing (radio)

Date: 21 November 2012
Program by: ABC 666 Canberra

Hosted by Alex Sloan, the radio program features a discussion with Prof Michael Berk (CRC for Mental Health) and Prof Tony Peacock (Cooperative Research Centre Association) about the latest research into biomarkers for depression and anxiety.

Listen to the full program


Not just one thing: art, science and schizophrenia

Date: 8 October 2012
Release by: CRC for Mental Health

Join us for a history of schizophrenia, exploring the illness through art, story-telling, science and personal perspectives. The show is a collaboration between the CRC for Mental Health and the Dax Centre. This Unlocking Australia’s Potential initiative is supported by the Australian Government as part of Inspiring Australia and is part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Read the full article


The promise and challenges of biomarkers for mental illnesses

Date: 8 October 2012
Published: The Conversation, written by Professor Ian Cooke

The human brain is the location of personality, emotion, learning and wisdom in a unique individual. It contains 100 billion nerve cells – roughly the same number as there are galaxies in the observable universe. Each cell makes on average, 1000 connections with other neurons, representing the potential for 100 trillion simultaneous information transactions. In such a complex and dynamic structure, there’s plenty of room for biochemical processes to go astray.

Read the full article


New scanner speeds up brain research

Date: 2 October 2012

Melbourne researchers have taken delivery of an improved brain scanner that will allow them to fast-track the detection and treatment of neurological disorders. According to Prof Chris Rowe, the technology will “attract more researchers and funding to the field, supporting development of new research directions in collaboration with the CRC for Mental Health and other institutes and researchers”. 

Read the full article


Appointment of new Chief Executive Officer

Professor Ian Cooke

Professor Ian Cooke

Date: 8 March 2012
Release by: CRC for Mental Health

Professor Ian Cooke has been appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer of the CRC for Mental Health. Professor Cooke is a scientist with a track record of initiative and achievement in research, teaching, management, entrepreneurship and organisational leadership. He takes over from Dr Graeme Chandler who retired in December after leading the Centre through the successful funding bid and establishment.Read the full release


New target for treatment of depression

Date:  January 2012
Release by: Mental Health Research Institute

Scientists from the Mental Health Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia have made an exciting new finding which has significant implications for the treatment of depression. Their new finding concerns the function of a protein, beta-amyloid protein precursor (APP) which is also implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. The research team, led by first author Dr James Duce and senior author Professor Ashley Bush, found that APP is an enzyme which controls the loss of catecholamines in the brain, blood and other organs.

Read the full release


CRC for Mental Health appoints Simone Quin as Chief Financial Officer

Date: 16 January 2012
Release by: CRC for Mental Health

The CRC for Mental Health announced Simone Quin as Chief Financial Officer and General Manager. Ms Quin played a critical role in the establishment of the Centre, displaying a wealth of knowledge in commercialisation and finance. Her appointment will provide a solid foundation for the CRC’s research into neurodegenerative disease and psychoses.

Read the full release


Ashley Bush appointed as Chief Scientific Officer

Date: 11 January 2012
Release by: CRC for Mental Health

The CRC for Mental Health is very pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Ashley Bush as its Chief Scientific Officer.

Professor Ashley Bush

As Chief Scientific Officer to CRC for Mental Health, Professor Bush will provide scientific oversight and advice to the organisation on its research into mental health diseases, pyschoses and mood disorders. The CRC’s research focuses particularly on “biomarkers”

“The CRC’s research focus i on biomarkers which could be an enormous aid in the early detection and clinical trial monitoring of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease or schizophrenia,” said Professor Bush.

“CRC for Mental Health researchers will be looking for specific cells, small molecules or subtle brain image changes which could be the first signs of disease. Any of these biomarkers might allow us to diagnose mental health issues before the onset of mental decline.”

Read the full release


A million for inaugural Chair in Aged Care

Professor Fran McInerney

Professor Fran McInerney has been announced as the inaugural Chair in Aged Care – a joint initiative between Mercy Health and Australian Catholic University (ACU). With Australia’s ageing population set to double over the next 40 years, the Chair will drive innovation, provide leadership and establish a long-term vision for the way Australia cares for older people.

Read more about the inaugrual Chair in Aged Care





Launch of the CRC for Mental Health

Date: 17 November 2011

(L-r) Dr Sandra Hacker AO, Prof Colin Masters, the Hon Mary Wooldridge, the Hon Dr Michael Wooldridge, Ms Patricia Kelly, Mr Neville Stevens AO, Prof Ralph Martins
Release by: CRC for Mental Health 
“The launch of the CRC for Mental Health on 17 November 2011 begins a research journey to find ways to diagnose neurodegenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases and pyschoses such as schizophrenia and mood disorders.” Read the full release

The CRC was officially launched in Melbourne by Ms Patricia Kelly, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research and the Hon Mary Wooldridge, Victorian Minister for Mental Health spoke at the launch.

(L-R) the Hon Dr Michael Wooldridge, his Excellency Malcolm McCusker, Prof Ralph Martins

The Western Australia launch of the CRC took place on 24 November 2011 at the Hollywood Medical Centre and was launched by His Excellency Malcolm McCusker AC CVO QC, Governor of Western Australia.






Collaboration for better mental health

Date: 17 November 2011
Release by: Senator Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research and The Hon Mark Butler MP, Minister for Mental Health and Ageing

Early detection and treatment of neurodegenerative disorders and psychoses will come a step closer with today’s official launch of the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Mental Health.

Comment by Minister for Innovation Senator Kim Carr… “Nearly half of all Australians will experience a mental illness at some stage of their lives and we know that mental illness impacts on individuals, their families and the community, at considerable personal, social and economic cost. Strong cross-sector collaborations are critical in tackling major challenges. The CRC for Mental Health draws together world-class researchers and brings an integrated and collaborative approach to addressing mental health issues”.

Comment by Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, the Hon Mark Butler… “In addition to providing new mental health services as part of our record $2.2 billion budget, we are investing heavily in research so that we can better understand how to prevent and treat mental illness. We also need to build capacity in the mental health research workforce – an issue that has been raised in my consultations with the mental health sector”.

Read the full release