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.


Eleni Ganella (Research Fellow)

Cassandra Wannan (PhD Candidate)

Dr Ye Tian (Research Assistant)

Rebecca Cooper (PhD Candidate)

Lilianna Laskaris (PhD Candidate)

Ali Stevens (Research Assistant)

Megan Thomas (PhD Candidate)

Jonathan Cavallo (Honours)

The Translational Neurobiology Group has a number of Honours, Masters and PhD projects available for 2021 commencement. 

Click on one of the links below to find information on each project.


Psychosis is a severe mental illness that typically emerges in adolescence and young adulthood; a time when substantial brain development is taking place. Recently, elements of the complement cascade have been associated with increased risk of schizophrenia. The complement cascade is involved in innate immunity and has been shown to be involved in synaptic pruning, a maturational process thought to underlie cortical thinning (grey matter loss) in schizophrenia. However, evidence of this process in living humans is scant. Preliminary data from our group has revealed that elevated complement protein levels in blood, and accelerated loss of grey matter, in the early stages of psychotic illness are related to poor outcome. This project seeks to unify and advance these separate observations to test an integrated model of complement-mediated cortical thinning in the development of psychosis. The PIP project will i) test whether complement proteins in blood and cerebrospinal fluid are altered in recent-onset schizophrenia, and ii) test whether dysregulation of these proteins are associated with cortical thinning and clinical outcome. The PIP study will be a multi-site cohort-study of participants with DSM-5 schizophrenia-spectrum disorder within the first 5-years of illness and 40 age- and gender-matched healthy controls with no major psychiatric illness of family history of psychotic disorder. Participants will undergo clinical, cognitive, blood and cerebrospinal fluid and imaging assessments. 

Funding: NHMRC


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.