Professor Felice Jacka

Professor Jacka is Director of the Food and Mood Centre and founder and president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research (ISNPR). She is an NHMRC Career Development Fellow at Deakin University in Australia, within the IMPACT SRC at the School of Medicine. She also holds Honorary Principal Research Fellow appointments at the Centre for Adolescent Health, Murdoch Children’s Research Centre; The University of Melbourne; and the Black Dog Institute in NSW.

Professor Jacka has pioneered a highly innovative program of research that examines how individuals’ diets, and other lifestyle behaviours, interact with the risk for mental health problems. This research is being carried out with the ultimate goal of developing an evidence-based public health message for the primary prevention of the common mental disorders. She has published extensively in high-impact journals in the mental health field including the American Journal of Psychiatry, World Psychiatry, BMC Medicine, Schizophrenia Bulletin and Lancet Psychiatry.

Sarah Dash

Sarah is a PhD Candidate within the Food & Mood Centre at Deakin University, Australia. Sarah’s research focuses on the link between diet and depression, specifically the biological pathways that may mediate this relationship. Sarah’s background is in nutrition and psychology and her research interests include nutritional epidemiology, mental health, prevention and public health.

The aim of her research is to further our understanding of biological pathways that are related to both diet and mental health in order to develop realistic nutritional strategies to help prevent or even to treat mental disorders. Sarah is also interested in science translation and the communication of good-quality scientific evidence to guide individual and population dietary practices. She is an active member and administrator for the ISNPR, and a CRC for Mental Health scholarship recipient.

Samantha Dawson

Samantha is a PhD Candidate within the School of Medicine at Deakin University, and is hosted by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. She has a Masters in Human Nutrition and is passionate about maternal and early life nutrition.  Her PhD research targets the prenatal diet to improve maternal and infant gut health.

She is excited be researching this important topic because she believes that the maternal and early life gut microbiome is highly relevant to childhood health. As part of her PhD, she will be running a randomised controlled trial that supports mothers to eat healthily throughout their third trimester of pregnancy and examining the influence of diet on maternal and infant gut microbiota. She is particularly excited about the potential for prenatal dietary improvement to influence mental health outcomes in children. After her PhD is completed, her goal will be to research the relationship between gut health during pregnancy and mental health outcomes in children.

Thaise Mondin

Thaise is a psychologist with Masters degree in health and behaviour from Brazil. Currently, she is finishing her PhD and working on a cohort study that aims to understand risk factors for bipolar disorder. She has experience in longitudinal, cross-sectional and clinical trial studies, all of which focus on mood disorders. Her particular interest is on the role that diet and sleep has on mood disorders.

Thaise was a visitor student at the IMPACT Strategic Research Centre in 2015 and holds an honorary position at the Food & Mood Centre. Her future objectives are to investigate the relationships between lifestyle, including diet, and sleep and mood disorders.

Wolfgang Marx

Wolfgang is an Accredited Practising Dietitian who completed his PhD at Bond University where he investigated the use of nutraceutical interventions on chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Wolfgang is also an invited speaker at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and teaching fellow at Bond University, where he has presented on issues specific to dietary supplements and complementary therapies. He has an honorary position with the Food and Mood Centre and is applying for funding to focus on risk factors and nutraceutical treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome.

Anu Ruusunen

Anu finished her PhD in Epidemiology in 2013 and her Masters degree in Nutrition in 2004. She is also a clinical dietitian. Anu is currently working as a Post-doctoral Researcher and Clinical Nutritionist at the Department of Psychiatry, Kuopio University Hospital, Finland, but will take up a two-year PostDoctoral Fellowship within the Food and Mood Centre in 2017. Anu’s studies have mainly focused on the epidemiological associations between diet and depression. During the last years, she has expanded her speciality in clinical trials, with a role on a randomized clinical trial of vitamin D supplementation in patients with depression (DepFuD).

In her clinical work, Anu acts as a nutritional counsellor for individuals with depressive or psychotic symptoms to improve their diet and thus to improve their physical and mental well-being. Her future research goals mainly focus on the association between gut microbiota, diet and mental health, including psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. She is also a member of the ISNPR.

Dr Adrienne O’Neil

Adrienne, [PhD (Public Health) (2012), BA (Psychology/Sociology; Hons) (2004)], is a Senior Research Fellow, NHMRC ECR and lead researcher at the School of Population & Global Health, University of Melbourne. She holds an adjunct appointment at the IMPACT Strategic Research Centre, and is a Chief Investigator on two of the Food and Mood Centre’s projects.  Adrienne has over 10 years experience developing preventative interventions and novel treatments for the common mental disorders, with a focus on their relationship with cardio-metabolic disorders.

Dr O’Neil’s research program utilises shared approaches to the prevention and management of these conditions by targeting common risk factors and disease pathways.  She has published in the British Journal of Nutrition, American Journal of Public Health, BMC Psychiatry, Midwifery and Appetite on the relationship between dietary intakes, depression and cardiovascular disease across the lifespan. In 2013, she was a co-convener of the International Society of Nutritional Psychiatric Research (ISNPR) meeting in Tokyo, Japan and sits on the Executive Committee of the Alliance for the Prevention of Mental Disorders.

Professor Jerome Sarris
Jerome Sarris is Professor of Integrative Mental Health and Deputy Director of the NICM integrative medicine research institute at Western Sydney University. He holds an NHMRC Clinical Research Fellowship, in addition to an honorary position at the University of Melbourne, Department of Psychiatry as a Principal Research Fellow. Jerome moved from clinical practice as a Naturopath, Nutritionist, and Acupuncturist to academic work, and completed a doctorate at the field of psychiatry. He has a particular interest in anxiety and mood disorder research pertaining to integrative medicine, nutraceutical psychopharmacology and psychotropic plant medicines, and lifestyle medicine. His research also utilises genomic technology to examine the pharmacogenomics of individual responses to nutraceuticals in the treatment of psychiatric disorders.Professor Sarris has over 120 publications and has published in many eminent journals in the field including The American Journal of Psychiatry, Lancet Psychiatry, and World Psychiatry. He is currently involved in over a dozen clinical trials in the area of mental health, being Chief-Investigator A on 3 multicentre NHMRC Project Grants in the field. Jerome is a founding Vice Chair of The International Network of Integrative Mental Health & an Executive Committee Member of the International Society of Nutritional Psychiatry Research.
Rachelle Opie

Rachelle, [PhD (submitted 2016), Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics (Honours), Bachelor of Science], works as a clinical dietitian at the Community Rehabilitation Program (Caulfield Hospital, Alfred Health) and the Healthy Body Healthy Mind day-program (Melbourne Clinic), with a particular focus on delivering care to patients with chronic diseases and mental health issues. Rachelle undertook her PhD at La Trobe University to explore the feasibility and efficacy of delivering a modified Mediterranean diet (ModiMedDiet) for the treatment of major depression.

Throughout her candidature Rachelle designed and delivered a specialised diet (ModiMedDiet) for participants with major depression, as well as specifically developing a dietary adherence score for assessing diet quality and adherence to the intervention diet. Moreover, a cost analysis was performed to assess whether the healthy ModiMedDiet was affordable for individuals with MDD. Between 2012 and 2015, Rachelle was also the lead research dietitian at the Women’s at Sandringham hospital where she designed, delivered and evaluated a dietary intervention for obese pregnant women with the primary aims of improving diet quality, achieving weight gain targets and reducing the incidence of gestational diabetes.

Josh Hayward 

Josh is a PhD Candidate based at the WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, at Deakin University. Josh’s PhD research is investigating the associations between physical activity and dietary behaviours and depressive symptomology among Victorian adolescents. A further study is also underway to understand the complex, interrelated determinants that drive lifestyle behaviours in this population from a System Dynamics perspective.

The aim of Josh’s current research is to explore how the complex drivers of adolescent lifestyle behaviours might be better understood, so that we may inform more effective diet/physical activity interventions into the future. Josh completed his Bachelor of Psychology with honours in 2012, and has published studies on lifestyle prevention of depression, adolescent obesity, body image, physical activity, quality of life and complex drivers of educational attainment in rural communities.

Professor Michael Berk

Prof Berk is currently a NHMRC Senior Principal research Fellow, and is Alfred Deakin Chair of Psychiatry at Deakin University and Barwon Health, where he heads the IMPACT Strategic Research Centre. He also is an Honorary Professorial Research fellow in the Department of Psychiatry, the Florey Institute for Neuroscience and Mental Health and Orygen Youth Health at Melbourne University, as well as in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University. He is past president of the International Society for Bipolar disorders and the Australasian Society or Bipolar and Depressive Disorders. He is an ISI highly cited researcher who has published over 800 papers predominantly in mood disorders.

His major interests are in the discovery and implementation of novel therapies, and risk factors and prevention of psychiatric disorders. He has led a program of research that has established the efficacy of the antioxidant NAC in schizophrenia and mood disorders and is currently leading investigations into a number of other nutraceutical products in psychiatry, including mangosteen. He is the recipient of a number of national and international awards including the Brain and behaviour Foundation Colvin prize, and holds grants from the National Institutes of Health (US), Simon Autism Foundation, NHMRC CRE and project grants, Beyondblue and Stanley Medical Research Institute and is a lead investigator in a Collaborative Research Centre.

Dr Olivia Dean

Dr Dean is currently the Director of the Clinical Trials Division and Senior Research Fellow with the Centre for Innovations in Mental and Physical health And Clinical Treatments (IMPACT) at Deakin University. She holds honorary appointments with the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, The University of Melbourne and Barwon Health.

Dr Dean has developed a research program focusing on novel therapies for psychiatric disorders. The program integrates preclinical multidisciplinary approaches to clinical trials to understand the biological underpinnings of mental illness, specifically depression. The multifaceted research program allows verification of target engagement and thus identification of targets for novel therapies. Dr Dean has been responsible for the successful completion of a multitude of clinical trials, including both national and international sites. Dr Dean is committed to providing better treatment outcomes for people with mental disorders and is actively involved in ensuring her research reaches community forums and outcomes are directly translated into clinical practice.

Associate Professor Seetal Dodd

A/Prof Dodd is a Clinical Associate Professor with the School of Medicine, Deakin University, a Principle Fellow with the Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, a Clinical Associate Professor at the Centre for Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne, and holds a full-time permanent staff position with Barwon Health. He has published over 170 articles in peer-reviewed journals and is on the editorial board of several scientific journals, including being Editor in Chief of the journal Current Drug Safety. He has over 20 years of research experience, originally at the Austin Hospital, Melbourne, from 1990-2001, and at the Victorian College of Pharmacy, Monash University, from 2001-2002. He is currently a researcher at Barwon Health, Geelong where he has been based since 2003.

Throughout his career his research has included a broad range of psychiatry research projects, ranging from laboratory based psychopharmacology research involving rats, cells, enzymes and analytical techniques, through to clinical trials, observational studies and other non-laboratory techniques. His interests include treatments for psychiatric disorders, focusing on mood disorders as well as drug safety and efficacy, substance use, focussing on tobacco use, and staging and neuroprogression of mental illness.

Erin Hoare

Erin Hoare completed her PhD in public health/psychology in 2016, with the WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention at Deakin University. She is a current researcher in the Metabolic and Vascular Physiology Laboratory at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Australia. Her PhD research examined links between adolescent depression and modifiable behavioural risk factors, including diet, nutrition, physical activity and sedentary behaviour.

Erin’s PhD findings indicated improvements in depressive symptoms among Australian adolescents following a community-based obesity prevention intervention, which aimed to facilitate healthy food and physical activity environments in Australian secondary schools. Erin’s research interests include nutritional epidemiology, adolescent mental health, and prevention science, and she has research skills in population-level data analysis, systematic reviews, and intervention evaluation. In 2015, Erin was awarded an Australian Endeavour Research Fellowship and has published in the area of mental health and risk behaviours in Obesity Reviews, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, and others.

 amelia Amelia McGuinness
Amelia McGuinness is a PhD student within the School of Medicine at Deakin University, Australia. She is currently also studying for her Graduate Diploma of Human Nutrition, and has a Bachelor of Health and Medical Science (Honours) and Bachelor of Biomedical Science. Amelia’s PhD research is focusing on how the commensal bacteria that live symbiotically within our gastrointestinal system, collectively known as the ‘microbiome’, are able to potentially influence our mental health and behaviour via the ‘gut-brain axis’. In particular, she will be observing the associations between exposure to environmental stimuli, such as poor diet, smoking, sedentary behaviour and sleep disturbances, and their possible role in causing deleterious microbiome alterations. Amelia is predominantly interested in the influence of the diet on the gut microbiome and the subsequent association with mental health outcomes, such as anxiety and depression.The aim of Amelia’s PhD study – MICRO-‘SCOPE –  is to determine the association between health behaviours in adults, in particular their diet, and mental health symptoms via the identification of compositional differences in the microbiome, particularly diversity and activity. She hopes that these data will support the development of novel prevention strategies and treatments, such as manipulation of the gut microbiome through diet, pre- and probiotics, and targeted antibiotic therapies via the provision of specific cocktails of select bacteria.
sara-c-photo Sara Campolonghi

Sara is a PhD candidate within the Food & Mood Centre at Deakin University, Australia. She is a clinical psychologist and nutritional therapist expert in weight management and eating habits, with a particular interest in promotion of health, behavioural change process and health coaching. She is thrilled about the possibility to be part of a multidisciplinary research team who are conducting research combining nutrition, medicine, psychiatry, psychology and health promotion.

Sara’s PhD project aims to explore the perceptions and experiences of fathers with young children in regards to healthy eating and underlying their own personal food choices, and seeks to investigate the perceived enablers and barriers to healthy nutrition in the fathers’ population. This study will also provide a better understanding of the role and the contribution of fathers in influencing the family food environment. The study will be conducted using a qualitative approach.

  Bryndís Eva Birgisdóttir

Bryndís Eva Birgisdóttir is a professor in nutrition at the Unit for Nutrition Research at the Faculty of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Iceland and Landspitali University Hospital in Reykjavik, Iceland. She has a background in molecular nutrition and dietetics. Her research has mainly focused on maternal and infant diet and later physical health, mainly diabetes. More recently her work has focused on the role of nutrition in mental health, both as prevention and as treatment strategy. Professor Birgisdóttir also has an interest in and delivers courses at the University of Iceland on food systems and the food environment and how this relates to the daily life of people, as well as other (behavioural) factors that affect food intake. In 2017 Prof Birgisdóttir will be an investigator on an RCT of A1 vs A2 milk conducted through the Food and Mood Centre.

 2015_12_30_14_41_160001 Tanya Marie Freijy

Tanya is a PhD Candidate within ARCADIA Research Group (School of Psychiatry, The University of Melbourne) and the Food and Mood Centre at Deakin University. She holds a Master of Science in Health Psychology (University of Sydney), a Master of Health Science in Behavioural Science (University of Sydney) and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology (Macquarie University), and has published in the area of health psychology.

Tanya’s PhD research centres around the gut-brain axis, which refers to the bidirectional pathway between the gut microbiome and the central nervous system. She is running the GUT FEELINGS study, an interdisciplinary randomised placebo-controlled trial involving supplementation with probiotics and/or adoption of a prebiotic-rich diet in adults with poor mood and low diet quality. Effects on mental health and cognition will be of particular interest, as well as whether such effects are mediated by changes in the gut microbiota. Tanya hopes that her research will contribute to the emerging understanding we have of the gut-brain axis, as well as the impact of nutritional psychiatry interventions at large.

Dr Amy Loughman

Amy completed her PhD thesis in psychology at the University of Melbourne and is a post-doctoral research fellow at the Food & Mood Centre.

Clinically trained in neuropsychology, she is passionate about understanding the relationships between physical and mental health. A particular research interest of Amy’s is the gut microbiome and the potential relevance that this ‘forgotten organ’ for understanding human health. In 2017 she was awarded the Jack Brockhoff Foundation Early Career Grant to examine the role of the microbiome in Alzheimer’s disease and cognition. She is also working on collaborative research regarding prenatal and early life predictors of child mental health at the Food & Mood Centre and the Barwon Infant Study.

Amy is an active communicator of science, and has written for The Conversation, The Research Whisperer and The Thesis Whisperer. She can also be found at and on Twitter @MBmicrobiome.

Leni Rivera
Dr Rivera is a Lecturer in Medical Sciences at the School of Medicine, Deakin University.  She completed a PhD in Enteric Neuroscience and Physiology at the University of Melbourne in 2012.  After completing her PhD, she worked as a Research Fellow at the Drug Discovery Biology Department at Monash University.  In 2013, she received the prestigious NHMRC Peter Doherty Fellowship.  She has been involved in projects investigating the effects of intestinal ischemia/reperfusion injury, the role of nitric oxide in injury and protection, as well as investigating the mechanisms of nutrient and micronutrient actions in digestive physiology.  Currently, her research passion lies in investigating the effects of poor nutrition, specifically high fat, highly processed, and low-fibre diets on gut health and the gut microbiota.
Claire Young
Claire is a PhD Candidate within the Food & Mood Centre at Deakin University, Australia and a Deakin University Postgraduate Research scholarship recipient. Claire holds degrees in Engineering, Information Technology and Psychology and has experience in eHealth. Claire’s research brings together these fields with the development of innovative technology to engage and educate people with mental health issues on dietary change targeting the gut microbiome, in order to improve their symptoms. She hopes her research will contribute to the growing field of Nutritional Psychiatry and further our understanding of the connection between nutrition and mental health. Claire is passionate about helping individuals better understand the direct effects of their diet on their mental well-being and also a true believer in the effective use of technology and using IT to achieve higher aims.
Hajara Aslam
Hajara is a PhD candidate within the Food and Mood Centre. She completed her Masters degree in Food Science and Technology with merit at university of Sri-Jayewardenapura, Sri-Lanka. Her study focused on analyzing the effect of integrated natural prebiotic compositions on several probiotics in vitro and published in American journal of Food Science and Technology. Also, she was eligible to apply for a patent on the novel prebiotic treatment found for accelerating the growth of probiotics. Food microbiology and biochemistry are her fields of interests and tutored at collaborative centres of Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland in Sri-Lanka. Her PhD project will be based on a randomized control trial of A2 versus non-A2 milk in Australian women. Hajara, has experience in phytochemical extraction, food microencapsulation and using lyophilized probiotics in vitro and currently focuses on gut microbiome, physical and mental health.