The Centre for Translational Neuroscience and Mental Health (CTNMH) is focused on increasing understanding of brain/mental disorders including schizophrenia, stroke, pain and sensory dysfunction, ageing, cognition, depression, addiction, stroke, dementia

Priority Research Centre for
TRANSLATIONAL NEUROSCIENCE AND MENTAL HEALTH

Research

CTNMH RESEARCH ENVIRONMENT

The Centre for Translational Neuroscience and Mental Health Research (CTNMH) is a University of Newcastle Priority Research Centre created in 2006 as part of a strategic initiative by the University to identify areas of existing and emerging research strength.  The CTNMH is a cross-disciplinary and cross-faculty centre encompassing researchers from the Schools of Biomedical Sciences & Pharmacy, Health Sciences and Medical Practice & Population Health (Faculty Health), the School of Psychology (Faculty Science/IT), as well as Hunter New England Area Health (Mater and Rankin Park Campuses) and Hunter Medical Research Institute.

The CTNMH is a unique research entity in Australia, bringing together high-quality neuroscience research in nationally important disease areas through six programs focusing on (i) development, ageing and cognition, (ii) schizophrenia, (iii) affective & addictive disorders, (iv) stroke, (v) pain & sensory dysfunction and (vi) translational mental health in communities and services. The Centre builds tight linkages across multiple levels of enquiry as well as between basic neuroscience, clinical neuroscience, mental and neurological health service delivery. CTNMH initiatives promote basic research in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science and fosters multi-disciplinary collaborative research across basic and clinical neuroscience, so as to achieve translation of important research outcomes at both clinical and population levels.

A priority of the current strategic plan of the University of Newcastle is to "enhance our international research profile and impact" and this has been promoted by the establishment of 12 Priority Research Centres which target international collaboration, high quality research and postgraduate research training opportunities. The CTNMH was one of the strongest performing Priority Research Centre at the University in the latest ERA assessment exercise.

FACILITIES

Imaging

The CTNMH has played a major role in the acquisition of a new 3T MRI scanner largely devoted to research which is located at the Calvary Mater Hospital.  CTNMH was instrumental in attracting to Newcastle research radiographer A/Prof Peter Stanwell, convener of the Centre's Imaging Platform, who faciliated acquisition of a state-of-the-art Siemens MAGNETOM Prisma 3T scanner devoted entirely to medical research imaging purposes.  More information about this scanner can be found here.

The CTNMH has also developed co-operative research partnerships with Siemens (Master Research Agreement) for brain magnetic resonance imaging research and Toshiba (Luminary Research Centre) for advanced perfusion computed tomographic brain imaging.  These partnerships will enhance the Centre's imaging capabilities.

The Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory (FNL) is located within the School of Psychology and is a state-of-the-art electrophysiological laboratory that houses three 32- and 64-channel EEG recording labs, clinical and neuropsychological test libraries, multiple workstations for EEG processing and MRI analysis, and research space for doctoral students. Together with building infrastructure, this facility cost approximately $1M to make fully functional in 2001.  The CTNMH contributes to IT and technical personnel who support FNL research.  In addition, the Centre has also co-funded the purchase of new eye-tracking equipment for the Ourimbah EEG facility.

Basic Neuroscience

To support the basic neuroscience aspects of our core program areas, the Centre has developed a Preclinical Neurobiology platform encompassing expertise in cell technologies and animal modelling.  This division supports basic neuroscientists from across all of the Centres' program areas, and promotes cooperative use of funding to build and maximise infrastructure, resources and expertise. 

The Centre has funded the development of enhanced infrastructure support for studying age in animal models.  These models will enable studies of ageing related changes in brain structure and function, and provide models of age related illnesses such as Alzheimers.

Primary care research support

The Centre has developed strong shared research support and linkages with the University's Discipline of General Practice and includes a cohort of clinicians and researchers from Hunter New England Area Health. 

The Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health (CRRMH), located in Orange, is an affiliate of the CTNMH.  The CRRMH aims to improve the mental health of rural and remote communities through academic leadership, collaboration and achievements in research, education, service development and information services.

Links with other Priority Research Centres

The Centre has strong links and on-going collaborative projects with the Centre for Information Based Medicine, the Centre for Health Behaviour, the Centre for Gender Health and Ageing, and the Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition.

EXCELLENCE IN RESEARCH

The CTNMH has researchers active in forty-one Field of Research Codes, with 75.5% of the Centres research falling within Neurology (1109), Clinical Science (1103), Psychology (1701), Cognitive Science (1702) and Public Health (1117).  In ERA 2008, Cognitive Science (FOR code 1702) received a score of 4 ("above world standard") and was ranked equal second across the nation, with only one (much larger) group in the nation receiving a higher score.  Public Health, Clinical Science and Neurology all performed at ranking 3 (at world standard). 

SCOPE OF RESEARCH

The CTNMH has researchers and clinicians investigating a wide range of neuroscience and mental health disciplines, including (but not limited to):

  • MRI brain imaging
  • Prevention and treatment of psychosis
  • Electrophysiology
  • Recovery of cognitive function post-stroke
  • Treatment of stroke related depression
  • Combined treatment of depression and substance abuse
  • Role of drug use in disease onset
  • Effect of mental illness on physical health
  • Animal modelling of pain and sensory disorders
  • Neurodegenerative conditions (e.g. Alzheimer's, Parkinson's)
  • Memory research and Executive Function
  • Development and ageing
  • Personality disorders
  • Suicide and suicide prevention
  • Psychological trauma
  • Public Health Policy

NEXT GENERATION

The CTNMH supports a progressive and active research environment by offering support through Summer scholarship schemes, RHD support grants, start-up funding for new post-doctoral appointments, travel and publication support, and through targeted mentoring and grant review by senior researchers.