The Translational Neurobiology group within the Psychosis Studies research stream investigates relationships between the brain, biology and behaviour in schizophrenia and psychotic disorders in order to understand why and how these disorders develop. We use brain imaging (structural, molecular and functional), cognitive assessment and clinically accessible tissue (blood and cerebrospinal fluid) to investigate the biological mechanisms and brain changes underlying psychotic disorders and their cognitive, clinical and functional correlates. An important aspect of our research is to test and validate models developed at the benchside (e.g. in animal studies) in people living with psychotic disorders across a broad spectrum of disease risk, including subclinical psychosis, help-seeking youth, and during early and established stages of the illness.
The Translational Neurobiology Group has a number of Honours, Masters and PhD projects available for 2023 commencement. Select a tab below to find information on each project.
Please contact Vanessa Cropley for further information.
The PIPs Study: Proteins of the Immune System in Psychosis
The human brain continuous to develop well into young adulthood. This development is characterised by white matter growth and the elimination and refinement of synaptic connections (called synaptic pruning). Research has demonstrated that the immune system and the environment shape brain developmental processes. Alteration in brain development may also confer risk for psychiatric illness, including psychosis. The ‘Proteins of the Immune system in Psychosis’ (PIPs) study combines multimodal neuroimaging, blood and cerebrospinal fluid, and phenotypic assessment in young adults in the general community to understand factors that impact individual differences in brain development and risk for psychosis. PhD students will have the opportunity to develop a project examining independent or interactive associations between the environment, immune proteins, subclinical psychosis and brain development (as inferred from neuroimaging). Students will have the opportunity to be involved in participant recruitment and assessment. This project is suitable for applicants with an undergraduate degree in biomedicine, biological science, psychology, neuroscience, health sciences or related discipline.
Cropley, V.L., Klauser, P., Lenroot, R.K., Bruggemann, J., Sundram, S., Bousman, C., Pereira, A., Di Biase, M.A., Weickert, T.W., Weickert, C.S., Pantelis, C., Zalesky, A., 2017. Accelerated Gray and White Matter Deterioration With Age in Schizophrenia. Am J Psychiatry 174(3), 286-295.
Di Biase, M.A., Zalesky, A., O'Keefe, G., Laskaris, L., Baune, B.T., Weickert, C.S., Olver, J., McGorry, P.D., Amminger, G.P., Nelson, B., Scott, A.M., Hickie, I., Banati, R., Turkheimer, F., Yaqub, M., Everall, I.P., Pantelis, C., Cropley, V., 2017. PET imaging of putative microglial activation in individuals at ultra-high risk for psychosis, recently diagnosed and chronically ill with schizophrenia. Transl Psychiatry 7(8), e1225.
Laskaris, L., Zalesky, A., Weickert, C.S., Di Biase, M.A., Chana, G., Baune, B.T., Bousman, C., Nelson, B., McGorry, P., Everall, I., Pantelis, C., Cropley, V., 2018. Investigation of peripheral complement factors across stages of psychosis. Schizophr Res.
Laskaris, L.E., Di Biase, M.A., Everall, I., Chana, G., Christopoulos, A., Skafidas, E., Cropley, V.L., Pantelis, C., 2016. Microglial activation and progressive brain changes in schizophrenia. Br J Pharmacol 173(4), 666-680.
Wannan, C.M.J., Cropley, V.L., Chakravarty, M.M., Van Rheenen, T.E., Mancuso, S., Bousman, C., Everall, I., McGorry, P.D., Pantelis, C., Bartholomeusz, C.F., 2018. Hippocampal subfields and visuospatial associative memory across stages of schizophrenia-spectrum disorder. Psychol Med, 1-11.
Cropley, V.L., Lin, A., Nelson, B., Reniers, R., Yung, A.R., Bartholomeusz, C.F., Klauser, P., Velakoulis, D., McGorry, P., Wood, S.J., Pantelis, C., 2016. Baseline grey matter volume of non-transitioned "ultra high risk" for psychosis individuals with and without attenuated psychotic symptoms at long-term follow-up. Schizophr Res 173(3), 152-158.
Cropley, V.L., Fujita, M., Innis, R.B., Nathan, P.J., 2006. Molecular imaging of the dopaminergic system and its association with human cognitive function. Biol Psychiatry 59(10), 898-907.