STUDENTS

Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre trains and supervises undergraduate and postgraduate students from different disciplines.

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TRANSLATIONAL NEUROBIOLOGY GROUP PROJECTS


Hover over the boxes below to find information on each project.

Please contact Vanessa Cropley (email) 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.

Sleep and brain development in adolescence

An exciting opportunity exists to take part in the ‘Imaging in the Circadian Light in Adolescence, Sleep, and School’ (iCLASS) study. This study, which involves researchers at Monash University and the University of Melbourne, is examining how changes in sleep in adolescence impacts brain development. In this prospective, longitudinal study, brain development will be assessed with repeated neuroimaging assessments of brain structure and function. We will test whether changes in comprehensive measures of sleep-wake patterns and circadian phase predict brain development and in turn, later psychopathology. This project would be suitable for applicants with an undergraduate degree in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, neuroscience, health sciences or related discipline, with an interest in clinical work.

Understanding sleep and psychosis

Sleep and circadian problems are common in people with psychotic disorders. This project will investigate sleep problems in the development, maintenance and management of psychosis. Specific projects might include: i) mapping short-term changes in sleep, psychotic-like experiences, psychopathology and cognition using ecological momentary assessment in young people from the community; ii) comprehensively assess the extent of sleep problems in individuals with psychosis and their experience of these problems (called phenomenology); iii) assess the association between specific sleep problems and worsening of specific symptoms or cognitive functions. This project is suitable for applicants with an undergraduate degree in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, neuroscience, health sciences or related discipline, with an interest in clinical work. The project will involve collaboration with researchers at the University of Melbourne and Swinburne University. 

Mapping brain metabolites across the brain

The PIPs study will acquire brain imaging scans called magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) that measure the level of small metabolites in brain tissue. Unlike previous MRS studies that measure brain metabolites in single voxels or brain slices based on a priori regions, the current study will acquire the brain metabolites at every voxel of the brain. This will allow various brain metabolites, including those indexing neuropil contraction and expansion, oxidative stress and energy metabolism, to be mapped across the entire cortical surface. This is important as the timing and level of brain metabolites varies across brain regions. We are seeking an enthusiastic student to work on advanced methods to quantify the MRS spectra to generate the metabolite maps across the cortex. This work will be done in collaboration with researchers within the Department of Radiology and the University of Geneva. This project is suitable for students with a background in engineering, computation, neuroimaging or related discipline.     

Melbourne Neurospychiatry Centre trains and supervises  undergraduate and postgraduate students from different disciplines:

  • Clinical Psychiatry Training

  • Neuropsychology

  • Research Higher Degrees including AMS, Honours, Masters and PhD

 

Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre is involved in the teaching in psychiatry to undergraduate students from the University of Melbourne's MBBS degree, as part of their rotations in psychiatry. This training is implemented through the Clinical Units at the Adult Mental Health Rehabilitation Unit at Sunshine Hospial and the Neuropsychiatry Unit at The Royal Melbourne Hospital. This historically has been in the fifth year of training, where students are involved in inpatient and outpatient patient review, and ward meetings, to gain clinical exposure and experience in the presentation, diagnosis and management of neuropsychiatric illness. With the move to a new medical course, NU will have a continuing role as chief specialist Neuropsychiatry Unit within Victoria in providing education and training to society's future doctors.

In addition, the unit takes medical trainees in their Advanced Medical Science (AMS) year, where individuals undertake research to gain a Bachelor of Medical Science degree (BMedSci), now a compulsory part of the University of Melbourne medical degree. Past and current students have been involved in examining the performance of normal controls on the NUCOG, a cognitive assessment tool developed in the NU, and aspects of genetic testing for Huntington's disease. Current medical students who are interested in a research placement within the unit should visit this University of Melbourne web site to find out more about the NU's offered placements.