2016 Directors' Highlights

Letter from the CBMHR Directors July 2016

Dear Researchers and Colleagues,

Introduction

This is the first Letter from the Centre for Brain and Mental Health Research (CBMHR), and as Directors of this Priority Research Centre, Brian Kelly and I would like to extend a warm welcome to all new and returning CBMHR members, particularly our Early- and Mid-Career Researchers (ECRs and MCRs).

We are thrilled to be part of a newly constituted and enthusiastic Executive that aims to build on past successes of the CBMHR and take advantage of this PRC’s unique collaborative and cross-disciplinary culture. This culture spans the research landscape from basic and clinical science through to public health delivery. In other words, the strength of this PRC is in its natural diversity and the willingness of individuals to co-operate for the greater good. There is no doubt this PRC already has runs on the board but our aim is to encourage stronger ties across our entire membership with the idea that the resulting collaborations are greater than what could be achieved by individual efforts. Our way forward is clear and a major emphasis will include supporting our younger researchers who, now more than ever, need the help and guidance from established researchers as they navigate through a very uncertain future for research in Australia.

Here, I should mention the current eight-member Executive. It comprises two Directors – one clinical (Brian Kelly) and one basic science (Alan Brichta) and six Deputy Directors, who are also Leaders of three CBMHR Hubs.

The three CBMHR Hubs and Hub Leaders are:

  1. Mental Health – Professor Sally Chan and Associate Professor Frances Kay-Lambkin
  2. Psychological Processes – Professor Scott Brown and Associate Professor Juanita Todd
  3. Preclinical Neurobiology – Associate Professor Chris Dayas and Dr Doug Smith

As part of the successful application process (see Recent developments below) the new Executive made a firm commitment to make communication with all members a priority. These letters will form part of the proposed communication strategy as will an online presence that is now being organised. But we also want to encourage a two-way flow of information. We will endeavour to keep everyone informed about the decisions made by the CBMHR Executive, while simultaneously responding to members’ queries and suggestions. So we urge and encourage regular contact and engagement with Hub leaders or any members of the Executive. If you have any thoughts or questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Recent developments

As you may know, after a lengthy process of submissions that began towards the end of last year, the University recently announced twenty new PRCs, including CBMHR, that have approved funding for five years. We would like to thank all those involved in the submission, particularly Annalese Johnson (Executive Administrator), and the Deputy Directors.

As a result of this recent funding by the University and HMRI, we have already begun to provide much needed support to our researchers. For those who were successful in their recent application for CBMHR travel support, a hearty congratulations – CBMHR was able to support 25 applicants, to attend various national and international conferences to present their research. With restricted access to travel funds, the CBMHR recognises this support is vitally important, especially to those early in their research careers. Of similar benefit to junior researchers is CBMHR’s funding of statistical services provided by CreDITSS (Clinical Research Design, Information Technology and Statistical Support). If you are in need of statistical help with your work please contact Annalese Johnson. The CBMHR has allocated $20,000 towards annual support with an upper limit of $2000 per researcher and will be available on a first-come-first-served basis.

CBMHR have recently established an ECR Committee. There are ECR representatives from each Hub and they include Lauren Harms, Michelle Kelly (Psych Processes); Sally Hunt and Agatha Conrad (Mental Health); and Jiann Yeoh (Preclinical Neuro). We welcome them as part of the CBMHR management team.

Finally, the CBMHR is hosting an International e-Mental Health Conference in November this year. The conference is being convened by Prof Sally Chan and A/Prof Frances Kay-Lambkin and will focus on “Delivering person centred care through new technology”. Registrations are now open, and further information can be found at this link.

In closing we thank you for your continued support of the PRC, and we look forward to working with you and your group in the months and years to come.

Best wishes,

Alan Brichta                                                                                       Brian Kelly

Director (Basic Science)                                                                 Director (Clinical Science)