Professor Brian Dean
HND Appl.Biol., MSc., PhD, FRSB, CI Biol.

Parkville Campus
30 Royal Parade
Parkville Victoria 3052

Brian  Dean


I am a biochemist committed to understanding the causes and improving the treatment of schizophrenia, major depressive disorders and bipolar disorder. My research utilises a unique collection of postmortem tissue from subjects with psychiatric disorders to understand how changes in cell biology can bring about the symptoms of psychiatric disorders.   I study cell markers in this CNS tissue as the first step in identifying changes in cellular function in the brains of people with psychiatric illness because cell function governs brain function.

My research shows that neurodevelopment and neuroinflammation have key causative roles for disorders such as schizophrenia, major depressive disorders and bipolar disorder. Some of my research is now moving into the clinic, particularly focussing on developing blood based diagnostic tests for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.  My 20 years of research on the role of muscarinic M1 receptor as a cause and site at which to treat schizophrenia is now increasingly recognised as significant because drugs that target that receptor are close to being trialled in subjects with schizophrenia.

My current research focuses are:

  • Develop blood tests to aid in the clinical management of subjects with psychiatric disorders at the level of diagnostics, theranostics and clinical course.
  • Using high-throughput screening of the transcriptome and proteome to gain an increased understanding of the causes of psychiatric disorders as a first step in identifying new drug targets that can be used to control the symptoms of people with psychiatric disorders.
  • Combining genetics, epigenetics, gene expression and neuroimaging to better understand how genes and the environment can affect brain function to cause the changes in function that brings about the symptoms of psychiatric disorders.

Key collaborators:

  • Richard Kannan, University of Melbourne Department of Psychiatry
  • Christopher Rowe, Austin Hospital
  • Susan Rossell, Swinburne University
  • Jeremy Crook, Wollongong University
  • Caroline Gurvich, Monash University
  • Elisabeth Binder, Max Planck Institute, Munich
  • Natalie Matosin, Max Planck Institute, Munich
  • Takeo Yoshikawa, The RIKEN, Tokyo
  • James Duce, Alzheimer’s Research UK Drug Discovery Institute, Cambridge
  • Edwin van den Oord, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond
  • Jeff Conn, Vanderbilt University

Career highlights

  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology
  • Fellow of the CINP
  • Beattie Smith Lecturer
  • Lilly Oration

Research publications


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