Dr Julian Simmons

Dr Julian Simmons is a Senior Research Fellow and

member of the Affective Neurodevelopment Stream at the MNC



Dr Simmons primary career objective is to improve wellbeing and mental health outcomes for children and adolescents exposed to adversity, and particularly stressors that occur in the family context. His research extends across the lifespan in meeting this objective, but with a particular focus on the first two decades of life in examining how environmental factors (such as stress, parenting, poverty, etc.) and biology interact in increasing risk for (and protection against) poor mental health outcomes. Current studies examine the development and function of the brain, and endocrine and immune systems in these processes. Dr Simmons is also conducting several large-scale studies examining the role of the human microbiome in mental health and behaviour, including one with the Melbourne Museum (see below for further information).

Dr Simmons completed his PhD at The University of Melbourne in 2011, and currently holds a joint position at the University of Melbourne across the Melbourne Medical School (Psychiatry – Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre) and the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences. He also holds an honorary appointment at the Centre for Adolescent Health at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

A/Prof Whittle is currently running the following studies:



If you would like to find out more about A/Prof Whittle’s research, or are interested in Honours, Masters or PhD projects, please contact her at swhittle@unimelb.edu.au.

Current Projects

Dr Simmons is currently running the following studies:



If you would like to find out more about Dr Simmons’s research, or are interested in Honours, Masters or PhD projects, please contact him via the study links above.

Current Funding

Simmons, J., Haslam, N., Whittle, S., Dashper, S., Schwartz, O.S., Howden, B., Stinear, T., Simkin, J. (2018 – 2019). The Victorian Oral Microbiome and Lifestyle Study – Mapping the State of Our Microbes. Internal Research Support (Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, Chancellery, Melbourne Medical School, MDHS Faculty, Melbourne Dental School), The University of Melbourne. This project is supported by Museums Victoria, The Peter Doherty Institute, and Callpoint Spatial Pty Ltd.

Simmons, J., Haslam, N., Schwartz, O.S., Dashper, S., O’Brien-Simpson, N., Gooley, P. (2017-2019) Bugs and Brains: The Gut and Mental Health Study. Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, The University of Melbourne.         


S Whittle, J Simmons, D Galena, O Schwartz (2019-2021). Neural mechanisms of anxiety across development and sex – The Emotional Learning and Memory (ELM) Study. National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grant.

S Whittle, N Allen, G Patton, M Seal, J Simmons, P Dudgeon (2015-2019). Pubertal timing, brain development and mental health in adolescence. National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grant.

Simmons, J.G., Azpitarte, F., Roost, F.D., Dommers, E., Havighurst, S., Allen, N.B., & Haslam, N. (2019). Correlates of hair cortisol concentrations in disadvantaged young children. Stress and Health, 35(1), 104-111.


Kaess, M., Whittle, S., O’Brien, L., Allen, N.B., Simmons, J.G. (2018). Childhood maltreatment, pituitary volume and adolescent hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis – Evidence for a maltreatment-related attenuation. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 98, 39-45.


Barendse, M., Simmons, J.G., Byrne, M.L., Seal, M., Patton, G., Mundy, L., Wood, S.J., Olsson, C.A., Allen, N.B., Whittle, S. (2018). Brain structural connectivity during adrenarche: Associations between hormone levels and white matter microstructure. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 88, 70-77.


Simmons, J.G., Badcock, P., Whittle, S., Byrne, M., Mundy, L., Patton, G., Olsson, C., Allen, N.B. (2016). The lifetime experience of traumatic events is associated with hair cortisol concentrations in community-based children. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 63, 276-81.


Whittle, S., Simmons, J.G., Dennison, M, Vijayakumar, N., Schwartz, O., Sheeber, L., Allen, N.B. (2014). Positive parenting predicts the development of adolescent brain structure: A longitudinal study. Dev Cog Neurosci, 8, 7 – 17.


Kuppens, P., Sheeber, L., Yap, M., Whittle, S., Simmons, J.G., Allen, N.B. (2012). Emotional inertia prospectively predicts the onset of depressive disorder in adolescence. Emotion, 12(2), 283-289.

Select Publications