Neuroscience, Mental Health and Addiction

Our Vision - Better Health, Better Lives: building communities free from the burden of disorders of the brain.

Doctor with brain scans


Our mission is to prevent, treat, cure and care for a broad range of neurological, mental health and addiction disorders. We achieve this through building effective networks of collaborative research.

These communities translate research outcomes into real-world solutions to improve the quality of life of those affected by those disorders.


The Medicine Neuroscience, Mental Health and Addiction research theme is made up of a network of internationally recognised researchers and clinicians. These experts lead the understanding and treatment of complex clinical conditions with physical, behavioural, mental and social dimensions across the lifespan.

Neuroscience, Mental Health and Addiction consists of four sub-themes and two priority areas.

Plastic model of human brain

Sub themes

The Children and Adolescent Wellbeing sub-theme is led by Scientia Professor Helen Christensen from the Black Dog Institute and Dr Julia Lappin from the UNSW School of Psychiatry and the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC). Key areas of focus include:

  • suicide prevention
  • prevention, identification and treatment of depression and anxiety
  • substance use and abuse
  • psychobiological risk and resilience in response to early adversity
  • mental health literacy in children and adolescents

The Complex and Difficult to Treat Diseases sub-theme is led by Professor Peter Schofield from Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) and Professor Philip Ward from the UNSW School of Psychiatry. Key areas of focus include:

  • schizophrenia and related psychoses
  • bipolar disorder
  • treatment resistant depression
  • trauma related conditions
  • alcohol and drug addictions and their comorbidities
  • behavioural change in the context of lifestyle and social adversity

The Healthy Ageing sub-theme is led by Scientia Professor Henry Brodaty from the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) and Professor Meera Agar from Improving Palliative, Aged and Chronic Care through Clinical Research and Translation (IMPACCT) at the University of Technology Sydney. Key areas of focus include:

  • cognitive ageing (including dementia)
  • prevention and treatment of frailty, immobility and falls
  • pain management in older people
  • mental health and positive ageing
  • biology, prevention and treatment of delirium
  • stroke prevention and treatments
  • alcohol and prescription opioids in the elderly

The Brain Sciences and Translational Neuroscience sub-theme is led by Scientia Professor Bernard Balleine from the UNSW School of Psychiatry, Scientia Professor Nigel Lovell from the UNSW School of Biomedical Engineering and Professor Gary Housley from the UNSW School of Medical Sciences. Key areas of focus include:

  • the interface of regulation and emotion
  • executive function and decision-making
  • the mind / machine nexus
  • neural coding, therapeutics and prosthetics
  • neuromodulation and stimulation strategies

Priority areas

Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing is a research priority at UNSW Medicine and spans each of the research themes. Our research capability in this area comprises local, national and international leaders in basic sciences, clinical, public and allied health, with proven expertise in driving top-quality clinical care, research and education.

Members of our team have collectively and individually led innovations and improvements across Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, education and practice. Our research provides opportunities to support better policy and practice through community, organisational and government networks.

Innovations in Health Technology is a Neuroscience, Mental Health and Addiction priority area that investigates the use and development of new technologies to solve complex health problems and improve quality of life.

Collaborations between researchers and clinicians from across the theme’s network are enabling new projects and developments in this exciting area of healthcare.

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In addition to supporting research in Schools, Centres and Institutes, we’re investing in critical Enabling Capabilities, Special Populations and Clinical Settings. This research is applied across themes to drive capacity and outcomes.

Our most successful activities are in partnership with UNSW facilities, medical research institutes, government health departments, health services and other universities.

Initiatives & Funding

Current initiatives in place to support research in the Neuroscience, Mental Health and Addiction theme, including how to apply and the deadlines for applications.

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Governance & Contacts

Our Strategic Advisory Group for Neuroscience, Mental Health and Addiction research includes leadership from clinicians, academics and the SPHERE network.

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