A new spotlight on brain research

A new spotlight on brain research

Professor Ulrich Schall has been appointed to the first Chair of Schizophrenia Research in Cognitive Neuroscience in Australia. He was awarded this prestigious post at the University of Newcastle in partnership with the Schizophrenia Research Institute, and funded by the NSW Government’s Department of Trade and Investment.

“I’m very excited and honoured by the appointment because it gives me the opportunity to apply what we’ve learnt about brain function in relation to schizophrenia and to explore potential novel ways to prevent the onset of the illness,” said Professor Schall.

Until now, Professor Schall has worked with other cognitive neuroscience researchers at the University of Newcastle but his appointment places him as a figurehead of the Institute’s cognitive neuroscience research program and positions him with two other schizophrenia-focused research Chairs in Australia; the Macquarie Group Foundation Chair in Developmental Neurobiology held by Professor Cyndi Shannon Weickert and the Chair of Schizophrenia Epidemiology and Population Health held by Professor Vaughan Carr, CEO of the Schizophrenia Research Institute.

“This is a significant boost for our research program because it shines a spotlight on three important areas of scientific study that complement each other,” said Professor Carr.

Professor Schall will build a centre of excellence in the area of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Newcastle with a team of researchers, but will also work with other scientists in a variety of areas as well as other researchers in the Schizophrenia Research Institute network across Australia.

The work will include a major study of the brain structure and function of young people at high risk of developing psychosis to try to discover ways to prevent the onset of schizophrenia.

Professor Schall took up his Chair position on 1 July 2012.

Childhood Adversity: A risk factor

What happens to us when we are young has long-lasting implications, and research is increasingly uncovering that childhood adversity is associated with elevated risk for a wide range of adult psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia.

A recent study by a team of Institute researchers, headed by Kathryn McCabe, has investigated a wide range of potential adverse childhood events, such as parent or sibling loss, divorce or separation, poverty and disadvantage and abuse, and their implications in schizophrenia.

The study, which utilised data from the Institute’s Australian Schizophrenia Research Bank, examined the rates of childhood adversity in schizophrenia compared to healthy controls, as well as its relationship to different types of symptoms.

The study found that people with schizophrenia report more exposure to adverse childhood events than those without the illness. The severity of positive symptoms – such as auditory hallucinations, delusions, disordered thoughts and behaviours – were also correlated with rates of childhood trauma.

Another group of Institute researchers, lead by Sandy Mattheson, undertook a systematic review of studies of childhood adversity in schizophrenia compared to a range of other mental disorders. They found that childhood adversity was greater in schizophrenia than in anxiety disorders, but there were no differences in rates of childhood adversity between schizophrenia, depression, affective psychoses and personality disorders.

Running for Gold

This year you can jump the queues at the City2Surf and start at the front of the pack as a Gold Charity participant for the Schizophrenia Research Institute.

Held on Sunday 12 August in Sydney, the City2Surf is a popular event that is filled to capacity each year. The Gold Charity places are limited and designated for City2Surf participants who would like to make fundraising the focus of the run.

You’ll get to start the City2Surf in your own designated Gold Charity start group with unique gold bibs, behind The Sun-Herald (Red) group and in front of the Green starters in Park Street.

Please note, as places are limited, the Institute will allocate the entries to runners on the strength of their commitment to fundraising, with a minimum target of $1000, including a $250 participant donation. If you would like to take part as a Schizophrenia Research Institute Gold Charity Entry then contact us on (02) 9295 8688 or

Give it up for Schizophrenia

Registrations are now open for SwearStop, the annual online awareness and fundraising campaign for the Institute, held 14 – 20 May.

Register Now!

Win an ipad- see event website for details.

This is your chance to get involved, raise some funds and spread the word about our work. It’s really simple, you just sign up at www.swearstop.com.au, swear to give up swearing, and then ask all your friends, colleagues and family to show their support by sponsoring you for your efforts.

Swearing is more common than you think – and so is mental illness. Help stop the negative voices.

With Ambassadors such as Dee Madigan from The Gruen Transfer, comedienne Corinne Grant, guys from Bondi Rescue,TV personality Julie McCrossin, Nate Myles from the Gold Coast Titans, former MasterChef contestant Courtney Roulston, and Miss World Australia 2010 Ashleigh Francis supporting the cause this year. It is sure to be a lot of fun.

You can do it alone or set up a team and go head to head against colleagues or friends in a SwearStop challenge.