Project Title

Clinical utility of electroencephalogram to detect glutamate abnormalities in psychosis

Project Type

Either MPhil or PhD

Supervisors

Research interests of the research team offering the project

To understand the neurobiological underpinnings of the onset and persistence of mental disorders in young people for the purpose of uncovering and validating neurobiological markers that can predict illness onset, helping develop new treatments, and targeting the treatments we already have to those they are most likely to help. In this work we use brain imaging (structure, function, and chemistry), cognitive ability assessments (memory, attention, etc), as well as semi-structured interviews to gauge symptom severity.

Details of the project

The objective of the research project is to determine if electroencephalogram (EEG) derived measures (gamma power and mismatch negativity amplitude, and their underlying microcircuitry) are able to detect glutamate abnormalities in first episode psychosis (FEP) and those at clinical high risk (CHR) for psychosis. Moreover, we aim to examine the predictive value of glutamate abnormalities for psychosis conversion in CHR and treatment response in FEP, and their association with greater negative and cognitive symptoms in both groups. The research project will aim to recruit 240 young people (15–25 years) experiencing FEP or CHR (120 in each group). These individuals will be recruited from the Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre and from headspace centres in western Melbourne. The research site is the Centre of Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne and Orygen. The research team will conduct a number of assessments at different timepoints. At baseline, interview and EEG assessments will be conducted. At 8-week follow-up, clinical assessments will be repeated. At discharge a review of medical records will also be conducted.

Project references

  1. Haaf M, Leicht G, Curic S, Mulert C. Glutamatergic deficits in schizophrenia–Biomarkers and pharmacological interventions within the ketamine model. Current pharmaceutical biotechnology 2018;19(4): 293-307.
  2. Kocsis B, Brown RE, McCarley RW, Hajos M. Impact of ketamine on neuronal network dynamics: Translational modeling of schizophrenia‚Äźrelevant deficits. CNS neuroscience & therapeutics 2013;19(6):437-447.
  3. Bossong MG, Antoniades M, Azis M, Samson C, Quinn B, Bonoldi I, McGuire P. Association of hippocampal glutamate levels with adverse outcomes in individuals at clinical high risk for psychosis. JAMA psychiatry 2019;76(2):199-207.

Scholarships and fees

A stipend is not available for this project.

To complete this project as a MPhil:

Scholarships are available through the University of Melbourne. More information here.

Other scholarship opportunities may also be available but are highly competitive. Please speak to the contact person below for more information.

Domestic Master of Philosophy students do not incur fees. Information on University of Melbourne fees for international students is available here.

To complete this project as a PhD:

Scholarships are available through the University of Melbourne – find out more here.

Other scholarship opportunities may also be available but are highly competitive, so please speak to the contact person below for further details.

Information on fees for domestic and international students is available here.

How to apply

To complete this project as a MPhil:

  1. Read information for future students here, and check your eligibility here.
  2. Read our frequently asked questions here.
  3. Liaise with, and gain the support of, the supervisor/s. Please contact them using the details below and attach a copy of your CV and university transcript(s).
  4. Once you’ve gained supervisor support, submit your application here.

To complete this project as a PhD:

  1. Read information for future students here and check your eligibility here.
  2. Read our frequently asked questions here.
  3. Liaise with, and gain the support of, the supervisor/s. Please contact them using the details below and attach a copy of your CV and university transcript(s). 
  4. Once you’ve gained supervisor support, follow the steps outlined by the University of Melbourne here. You can go straight to Step 3. 

You are strongly encouraged to submit your application as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

Contact

Dr Ilvana Dzafic
ilvana.dzafic@orygen.org.au