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Neuroscience and mental health


Theme Leaders: Professor Jayashri Kulkarni, The Alfred; Professor Suresh Sundram, Monash Health

Executive: 
The Neuroscience and Mental Health Theme has an Executive Group of two psychiatrists and three neurologists. All are active clinicians and researchers.

  • Associate Professor Srikanth Velandai (Monash Health) 
  • Professor David Clarke, (Monash University) – previous theme leader (2012)
  • Professor Dominic Thyagarajan (Monash Medical Centre)
  • Professor Elsdon Storey (The Alfred)
  • Dr Srikanth Velandai (Monash Medical Centre)
Steering/advisory committee: The Theme is in the process of setting up a larger committee that will include more clinicians and researchers, all involved in applied neurosciences.

Goals/achievements: The longer term targets of this Theme are to:

  • Reduce morbidity from stroke by 20 per cent
  • Improve work attendance for those with enduring mental illness
In the past six months members of the Theme have identified two research topics:

  • Headache and migraine: This is an area in which little research has occurred. It has identified the need for a health economist who could assess the likely impact of headaches on work productivity and staff availability.
  • Improving depression service links between Monash and The Alfred:  In particular this would include offering a program currently only available at the Alfred program, namely ‘Transcranial Magnetic Simulation’ (TMS) at Monash Medical Centre. Agreement has been reached between the two sites and Monash staff are now being trained by staff from The Alfred.
Consideration is also being given to building a cross-site stroke program – with a capacity to align services between the two sites.  

Highlights: Facilitating the Transcranial Magnetic Simulation project to run at Monash Medical Centre has been a great achievement, says Theme leader Professor Kulkarni.

This is a new approach to treating depression, which has been pioneered by Professor Paul Fitzgerald at the Monash Alfred Psychiatry research centre, and has now expanded to include Monash Medical Centre. 

Another highlight has been clarifying the Neurology project in migraines and consolidating the dual efforts of this stream.


What next? In the next six months the Theme plans to:

  • Hold regular meetings of the expanded group to inform the executive of this stream about future projects
  • Implement the migraine study
  • Continue to expand the Transcranial Magnetic Simulation work