The Florey and The DAX Centre: Hand-in-hand

If you haven’t visited The Dax Centre, located alongside The Florey’s Parkville campus, it’s worth a look.

While The Florey’s labs upstairs are bustling with people making scientific discoveries, The Dax Centre exhibits artwork made by people with experiences of various mental health issues showcasing a more intimate side of neuroscience and mental health.

Mental health problems have a unique place in science because they must be understood not just through chemistry and biology but also through emotions. Mental health may be the only field of science in the world where a piece of art can teach you something that data can’t.

The Dax Centre provides a platform for communication between The Florey and the community. Open to the public, it provides a space to learn about mental health in everyday life and some of the science done in the building. Florey PhD candidates volunteer to speak to visiting high school groups through the ‘Mindfields program’, presenting alongside speakers with lived experience of mental health issues.

“Presenting at The Dax Centre helps me step outside the academic bubble that I often find myself in while undertaking my research,” said Alice Whitehead, a Florey PhD candidate who communicates her research in protein receptors for the relaxin hormone and its role in conditions like fibrosis.

“Presenting my research shows me points of view that I wouldn’t otherwise be aware of. Students have great ideas to offer when it comes to understanding mental health.”

Alice considers her role at The Dax Centre highly rewarding as it helps her to see the link between her research and the impact it has on people’s lives. The program also encourages high school students to learn about cutting-edge neuroscience research and to explore scientific career paths after leaving high school.

Combining The Dax Centre’s mission of raising awareness about mental health issues and reducing stigma through art and The Florey’s scientific research, the Mindfields program helps to bridge the gap between complex science and the more nuanced, emotional aspects of mental health.

This article was written by Masters level students Tom Scelsi and Naushad Talati, who were undertaking a science communication subject and authored this piece. Here’s their reflection on the project:

Tom Scelsi, Master of Science (Computer Science)
“The project was interesting to me because it gave me an opportunity to understand the process behind writing articles and information discovery. It allowed me to learn more about mental health and what work was being done in the field at the Florey. It is interesting and heartening to know what is going on at the Florey and Dax Centre now. The skills in communication and writing I have learnt doing this project will be useful going forward in my degree.”

Naushad Talati, Master of Biomedical Science at The Florey
“I chose this project because I want to be able to communicate neuroscience on more levels. The science communication subject and this project have been a valuable experience in learning how science journalism works and about some of the more diverse ways neuroscience has to be communicated and how it affects people. I hope to do more science communication in the future, and this was a good step in that direction.”