Mental health

Creating a better quality of life for people with mental health conditions

Mental health is, without doubt, one of the biggest health challenges facing our society today.​

There is a clear and pressing need to accelerate research into mental health conditions to improve the lives of people that live with them. We still don’t know enough about the biological basis for these brain disorders. This fundamental knowledge is key to achieving much-needed medical breakthroughs. ​This understanding is also pivotal for reducing the stigma and mystery around mental health conditions.

The Florey’s neuroscientists are working globally with research collaborators, clinical partners and hospitals to create a better quality of life for people living with mental health conditions.

The challenge

Focus areas

There are many ways that science and research can contribute to The Florey’s overarching mission to create a better quality of life for people with mental health conditions. The focus areas of our mission utilise The Florey’s long-established expertise in fundamental brain biology, cutting-edge drug development and strong psychiatric and pharmacological networks and collaborations.

Accelerate our understanding of how the brain is impacted by mental health conditions

Build knowledge on the causes of schizophrenia and psychosis to develop new treatment options

Deepen our biological understanding of addiction and substance use disorder

Improve the quality and number of psychiatric treatments available to patients

Key people

Conditions covered in mental health

Researcher spotlight

Sex differences modulating anxiety & binge drinking behaviours

Dr Leigh Walker is leading research into excessive alcohol consumption and alcohol use disorders (AUD) in women. Despite the fact that AUD is a rising issue, sex has been largely ignored in preclinical research and drug development – we’re changing that.

Leigh Walker

Our key projects in this mission

Do the beneficial effects of exercise involve miRNA-mediated regulation of gene expression?

Emerging evidence suggests that microRNAs (miRNAs) contribute to the pathogenesis of stress-related disorders, including depression and anxiety.

Designing allosteric modulators of the neurotensin receptor 1 (NTS1) as potential drugs for schizophrenia

Neurotensin (NT) is a 13-residue peptide expressed in the central nervous (CNS) gastro-intestinal and cardiovascular systems.

Novel relaxin-3 mimetics for controlling feeding and motivated behaviour

Eating disorders and addictions, in particular obesity and excessive food consumption, are a major health concern in Australia and worldwide; and there is an urgent need to better and fully define the neurochemicals and neural circuits controlling motivated appetitive and consummatory behaviours.

Developing better treatments for mental illness: unravelling the molecular machinery at synapses to therapeutically target disruptions in complex behaviour and cognition

The Synapse Biology & Cognition Laboratory is focused on understanding the critical role synaptic molecules play in regulating connectivity in the brain that enables complex cognition and higher order processing in the healthy brain, and how these processes go awry in mental disorders.

Research groups

  • Addiction Neuroscience Group

    The Addiction Neuroscience Group studies how alcohol and other drugs change the brain's chemistry, structure and function.

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  • Drug Discovery Innovation Group

    We aim to reveal molecular mechanisms of GPCR function using various techniques such as structural biology, protein engineering, biochemistry, and pharmacology.

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  • Epigenetics and Neural Plasticity Group

    The Epigenetics and Neural Plasticity Group investigates gene-environment interactions and experience-dependent plasticity in the healthy and diseased brain.

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  • Fluid Homeostasis Group

    Our group specialises in the study of the neural circuitry underlying fluid homeostasis – how the brain regulates fluid balance and electrolyte concentrations to maintain a stable environment.

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  • Genes Environment and Behaviour Group

    We focus on understanding how stress and lifestyle factors impact behaviour and physiology via molecular & cellular changes in the brain and periphery.

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