CRC for Mental Health

Broadcast: Diagnosing Dementia – ABC Big Ideas

November 6, 2015Pierre DaoLatest News0

ABC Radio National has broadcast the Diagnosing Dementia event on its Big Ideas program as a part of the ABC’s Mental As week. Hosted by Paul Barclay, an expert panel spoke about how we might be able to detect and diagnose dementia in the future. They also talked about why this research is an important step forward for finding a treatment and even a cure, and when these techniques might become a reality.

Over the past few years, significant progress has been made towards techniques which could diagnose Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia 10 – 20 years before symptoms occur. A simple blood test, eye imaging, brain scans and memory tests could all be part of the future for a dementia diagnosis. What could they actually tell us, how accurate are they likely to be and if you could know, would you want to?

The panel consisted of:

  • Mr Graeme Samuel (National President, Alzheimer’s Australia)
  • Ms Jenny Lloyd (Consumer, aged 62)
  • Professor Ashley Bush (Chief Scientific Officer, CRC for Mental Health and Head, Oxidation Laboratory, the Florey)
  • Dr Rachel Buckley – (AADRF Fellow, The University of Melbourne)
  • Dr Shaun Frost – (Research Fellow, Preventative Health Flagship, CSIRO)

You can listen to the broadcast here.

Independent review of CRCMH find we are “Clearly addressing issues of economic and social significance to Australia”

August 20, 2015MelanieLatest News0

In June, we underwent a rigorous independent review conducted on behalf of the Department of Industry and Science. A requirement for all CRCs at the mid-way point of funding, the three day review focused on all aspects of the CRC for Mental Health. I’m pleased to share with you highlights of the Panel’s report:

  • “The Panel commends the CRC on its success in bringing together researchers, industry, end users and students into a cohesive and effective organisation in a relatively short period of time… The Panel considers the science undertaken by both programs to be of a very high quality and clearly addresses issues of economic and social significance to Australia.”
  • “The Panel commends the CRC on the strength of its science and acknowledges the high quality of its research. The Panel was also impressed by how the CRC has enabled collaboration across the neurodegenerative and psychoses research programs. In addition, it was impressive to see end users embedded in and engaged with research projects. It is clear that this could not have happened without the CRC.”
  • “The CRCMH’s education strategy is impressive and robust. It is clear that the PhD and early career researchers identify with the CRC and are very appreciative of the opportunities provided by it… It is clear that the breadth and depth of the educational, collaborative and end user experience that students have gained is a tangible legacy of the CRC”.
  • “The CRCMH’s communication strategy is equally impressive. The strategy explaining biomarkers to the general public is one that could be a model adopted by others working in the sector”.

While these comments are highly complementary, it was also clear from the Panel that with only three years of funding remaining it is time to tightly focus our research efforts and accelerate the translation and commercialisation of our research outcomes. This is in keeping with the CRCMH’s long-standing view that our research must have clear pathways to uptake by the medical technologies and pharmaceutical industries. Over the coming months the CRCMH will be engaging with all of our stakeholders to discuss how we build momentum, move our research further along the commercialisation pathway and continue to work with our industry and clinical end user participants to generate the best outcomes possible.

Our thanks go to the independent review panel Professor Suzanne Miller (Chair), Dr Warren King, Dr Carol Dobson-Stone, Professor David Copolov OAM and Professor Sam Gandy MD PhD. We appreciate their diligence and constructive guidance during the review process.

Professor Ian Cooke
Chief Executive Officer
Cooperative Research Centre for Mental Health


Event: Diagnosing Dementia – What Does the Future Hold?

The CRC for Mental Health is pleased to join with the Florey Institute of Neuroscience & Mental Health and Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation to present “Diagnosing Dementia – What Does the Future Hold?” a free public event on 13 August, 6-8pm at the Melbourne Brain Centre . Hosted by Paul Barclay (Host of ABC Big Ideas), an expert panel will discuss the future of detecting and diagnosing dementia, and how this research will help find a treatment.

The panel will consist of:

  • Mr Graeme Samuel (National President, Alzheimer’s Australia)
  • Professor Ashley Bush (Chief Scientific Officer, CRC for Mental Health and Head, Oxidation Laboratory, the Florey)
  • Jenny Lloyd – (Consumer representative)
  • Dr Rachel Buckley – (AADRF Fellow, The University of Melbourne)
  • Dr Shaun Frost – (Research Fellow, Preventative Health Flagship, CSIRO)

This event will be recorded for ABC Radio National.

More information and registrations for the event can be found here.

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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.”  Twitter_logo_blue_16 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.” Twitter_logo_blue_16

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



Video: web-based repository to improve early detection of mental illnesses

About this video: In this five-minute video, Dr. Noel Faux, molecular biologist and bioinformatician at the CRC for Mental Health talks about the challenges of seeking biomarkers for the early detection of mental illness such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and, mood disorders.

Dr. Faux talks about a web-based repository the CRC for Mental Health is co-creating with commercial firm, Arcitecta, to improve the early detection of mental illness by simplifying the management and analysis of over 100 terabytes of data stored at 19 different locations, covering longitudinal cohort studies ranging from 2 years to 20 years.

This web-based repository will make it easier for researchers to collaborate and gather information from the participants of a number of studies, many of whom are unable to attend assessment clinics or sites to share information about their illness.

This new system will make it easier to collect data at the bedside (using mobile devices). It will also make it easier to combine these data with the CRC for Mental Health’s existing information taken from body scans, genomic analysis, EEG, blood tests and clinical notes, using a product based on Arcitecta’s Mediaflux data management platform.



InSearch: Unlocking the secrets of Parkinson’s

March 2, 2015MelanieLatest News0

The CRC for Mental Health is pleased to be part of InSearch: Unlocking the secrets of Parkinson’s, a series of research lectures and events across Victoria.

InSearch is a unique opportunity for people living with Parkinson’s, families, carers and health professionals to learn about current international and national research from leading researchers and clinicians.

The 2015 InSearch keynote lecture in Melbourne will be delivered by international guest Dr Ted Dawson (MD, PhD), from John Hopkins University, Baltimore. Dr Dawson has been at the forefront of research into the biology of mutant proteins linked to Parkinson’s. These studies are providing novel opportunities for therapies aimed at preventing the degenerative process of Parkinson’s. In this lecture, Dr Dawson will share his research insights relating to the biological nature of familial Parkinson’s, mechanisms of cell death in Parkinson’s, drug discovery programs and the importance of biomarkers to the future of Parkinson’s research.

When: Wednesday 15 April 2015

Time: Doors open at 5.30pm (finger food and refreshments). Lecture from 6.30 – 7.45pm.

Location: RACV Club, level 17 ballroom, 501 Bourke St, Melbourne.


InSearch is presented by Parkinson’s Victoria, in partnership with the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health and with support from the CRC for Mental Health.

Early career researcher monthly video conference

February 2, 2015Pierre DaoLatest News0

The CRC held its first monthly video conference in a new professional development series that aims to train and equip new postgraduates with skills and attributes to continue being productive in the biomedical research field.  This month, Chief Executive Officer, Professor Ian Cooke spoke about “Governance and Management”, giving students an awareness of important concepts, processes and developments from outside their discipline. They will continue to run throughout the year, providing early career researchers with a unique training program, as well as the chance for regular interaction, both in Melbourne and in Perth.

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.

Bringing understanding to mind

January 5, 2015Pierre DaoLatest News0

Date: December 2014

Article from: Inspiring Australia

The CRC for Mental Health appears in the December 2014 Inspiring Australia newsletter, an update on the Federal Government national strategy for science engagement. The article highlights the importance of the community engagement events run by the CRC including, ‘Not just one thing : art, science and schizophrenia’ and ‘Science & Dementia’,  in generating discussion and awareness of mental health issues. Inspiring Australia’s Program Manager Simon France commented that the events created “sustainable demand and product for science engagement,” with over half of the initially funded projects continuing beyond government funding.

Read the full Inspiring Australia article

Read about our community education program