Associate Professor Jess Nithianantharajah to lead the Florey Department of Neuroscience and Mental Health

Associate Professor Jess Nithianantharajah is the new Head of the Florey Department of Neuroscience and Mental Health at the University of Melbourne, tasked with advancing research collaborations in neuroscience and mental health research between the University of Melbourne and The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health.

Formerly, this was a position held by the Director of The Florey; the Board and the University have agreed that these two roles be separated.

Professor Mike McGuckin, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences said that this decision recognised the importance of the partnership between the University of Melbourne and The Florey.

“In this vital role, Associate Professor Nithianantharajah will be integral to our efforts to advance links between the University and The Florey and in promoting neuroscience in the Parkville Precinct,” said Professor Mike McGuckin.

She is also Research Co-Lead of The Florey’s Mental Health Mission and heads the Synapse Biology and Cognition Group.

Associate Professor Jess Nithianantharajah

Associate Professor Nithianantharajah’s research focuses on understanding how changes in the molecular architecture of connections in the brain (synapses) regulate complex behaviour, and underly cognitive symptoms in mental ill-health.

Her work has pioneered translation-focused methods using touchscreens to measure cognition in animal models and humans, advancing how we examine the neural basis of cognitive dysfunction, and accelerate the development of new and improved therapies for psychiatric conditions and related brain disorders.

“I am very excited to build on the collaborative partnerships between the University of Melbourne and The Florey to catalyse our collective strengths in innovative discovery and translational research in neuroscience and mental health,” she said.

Jess will retain her positions of Research Co-Lead, Mental Health Mission, and Group Head.

Professor Trevor Kilpatrick, Director of The Florey, said the University partnership will go from strength to strength with Jess’ appointment.

“On top of being a remarkably talented scientist, Associate Professor Nithianantharajah is a passionate advocate for neuroscience and mental health research, and has a strong vision for how The Florey and the University can enhance collaboration for mutual benefit.

“We wish Jess all the best in this important role.”