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    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    JOINT STATEMENT
    Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services
    The Honourable Cameron Dick
    Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business
    The Honourable Leeanne Enoch

    Advance Queensland to advance mental health research

    JOINT STATEMENT

    Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services
    The Honourable Cameron Dick

    Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business
    The Honourable Leeanne Enoch

    Wednesday, April 20, 2016

    Advance Queensland to advance mental health research

    The Queensland Government is throwing its support behind critical mental health research, from pinpointing the origins of schizophrenia to preventing psychiatric problems some Parkinson’s disease patients encounter after undergoing a surgical procedure to improve motor function.

    Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch today announced $570,000 in grants for four mental health research projects as part of more than $10 million funding for 54 recipients from the Advance Queensland Research Fellowships and PhD Scholarships programs.

    Ms Enoch said all four projects were critical in improving the lives of thousands of Queenslanders.

    “Mental illness, in all its forms, is debilitating for patients and their families,” Ms Enoch said.

    “The four research projects we’re supporting not only confirm Queensland as a leading centre for neuroscience research in Australia, but they offer up new possibilities in diagnosing and treating illnesses like schizophrenia and depression.”

    Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said the research had the potential to improve outcomes for people with mental illness and their carers.

    “Mental illness continues to be one of the most misunderstood conditions in our society,” Mr Dick said.

    “This research could provide important insights and improvements on the treatment and hopefully remove some of the stigma associated with mental illness.”

    Dr James Kesby from the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) at the University of Queensland has been awarded a $300,000 Advance Queensland Research Fellowship for his work looking at the links between dopamine neuron development in the prenatal brain and the onset of schizophrenia.

    Dr Kesby said current drug therapies for schizophrenia were largely ineffective and we needed to find other ways of dealing with the illness.

    “We need to get back to basics, by looking at the origins and progression towards schizophrenia,” Dr Kesby said.

    “If we can work out what’s going on in the brain prior to schizophrenia, I believe we can find biomarkers for early detection.”

    The Advance Queensland Research Fellowship supports two research teams working in partnership to translate the research into clinical outcomes – a basic research team working at the QBI and a second clinical research team at the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research.

    “One of the major hurdles in mental health research is the lack of direct communication between basic scientists and clinical researchers. By working closely together, we can fast track innovative ideas and research into practical outcomes for patients,” Dr Kesby said.

    Dr Philip Mosley from the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute received a $180,000 Advance Queensland Research Fellowship for his work on overcoming the negative impact of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) treatment on some people with Parkinson’s disease.

    DBS is a surgical procedure used to treat the movement symptoms of Parkinson’s disease that involves implanting an electrode in the brain which is then programmed to deliver electrical stimulation.

    “DBS is a wonderful treatment for most sufferers, but unfortunately a proportion of patients develop significant post-operative psychiatric symptoms in the early months after DBS,” Dr Mosley said.

    Working as a neuropsychiatrist at Brisbane’s St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital in the DBS program - which inserts about 120 devices per year and is one of the largest DBS centres worldwide – Dr Mosley said the motivation for his research was driven by the trauma and suffering this cohort of patients and their families endured.

    “My research aims to find a reliable method of predicting which patients are at risk before they undergo the DBS procedure.” He said.

    “Using the cutting edge neuroscience tools available to us in Brisbane, we’ll produce a map of connections within the brain that are associated with psychiatrically safe stimulation.

    “This knowledge will help to guide DBS electrode programming and improve the safety profile of this important therapy, which has been used to treat over 100,000 patients worldwide.”

    Dr Johanna Lynch from the University of Queensland’s School of Medicine and Mrs Saira Sanjida from QUT’s School of Public Health and Social Work both received $45,000 Advance Queensland PhD Scholarships.

    Dr Lynch is looking at new ways to assess mental distress in primary health care and Mrs Sanjida is looking at the use of anti-depressants for people with cancer.

    They are among 54 grant recipients sharing in a total of $10 million from the Advance Queensland Research Fellowships and PhD Scholarships programs which are part of the Advance Queensland initiative to develop a knowledge-based economy in Queensland, based on science and innovation.

    Read more about the Advance Queensland Research Fellowships and PhD Scholarships recipients on the Advance Queensland website.

     

    Media contact: Daniel Lato (Minister Enoch) 0438 830 201

                           Andrew Fraser (Minister Dick) 0428 690 679