The Research Staff at MAPrc are a diverse group of dedicated and dynamic people, with a focus on ground-breaking and innovative outcomes for participant-oriented care. We acknowledge the participant as the hub of all our research activities, and make every effort to ensure continuity of optimum health and wellbeing, in an holistic manner. Our values encompass caring and responding appropriately to our patients/participants; encouraging and achieving excellence through continual learning and improvement; working in partnership and co-operation with all allied health services; being responsible and accountable for the services we provide; and treating all people with integrity, in a friendly, trusting and respectful manner and environment.
MAPrc nurtures a friendly and supportive environment, where team work and individual effort are not only encouraged but applauded. Our work incorporates all areas of mental health, as discussed under ‘Our Research’. We strive to provide educational updates and opportunities to all staff, and encourage the dissemination of knowledge in all areas of the health sector.
Research activities include project advertisement, ethics processing, project recruitment, participant interaction, project co-ordination and data analysis; development of clinical networks; conference attendance and project presentations; publication of study progress and results within a variety of reputable journals and departmental representation at a diverse range of mental health forums, both nationally and internationally.
Dr Eric Tan
Dr Eric Tan, BA(Hons), PhD, MAPS
Position: Research Fellow, St Vincent’s Mental Health, Swinburne University
Eric is a postdoctoral research fellow within the Cognitive Neuropsychiatry Team, commencing in Nov 2015.
Prior to this, Eric completed his Honours and PhD at MAPrc with Monash University under the supervision of Professor Susan Rossell. His PhD research examined the relationship of neurocognition and language in the manifestation of formal thought disorder symptoms in schizophrenia, and the impact of those symptoms on patient functioning and life satisfaction. His postdoctoral research currently focuses on a project examining auditory hallucinations in schizophrenia, as well as another project that seeks to examine the neurocognition and neurobiology of chronic kidney disease.
Dr Trung Ngo
Tel: +6142 111 7258
Email: Trung.Ngo@monash.edu / Trung.Ngo@uq.edu.au
Trung completed his PhD in Neuroscience with eminent Australian neurobiologist, Jack Pettigrew, at the University of Queensland. His research studies employed caloric vestibular stimulation (CVS) — a simple, non-invasive (unihemispheric) brain stimulation technique— to demonstrate evidence for a novel neural mechanism of visual rivalry: the interhemispheric switch (IHS) model.
Trung was awarded an NHMRC postdoctoral clinical research fellowship to continue investigating rivalry mechanisms and characterise rivalry abnormalities in psychiatric groups. In particular, the project examined slow binocular rivalry (BR) switch rate as a clinical diagnostic tool and endophenotype for bipolar disorder (BD). From 2010 he was project coordinator and technology lead for this work at MAPRC. His fellowship studies also examined CVS as a potential therapeutic intervention in persistent pain disorders.
His research is currently based at QIMR Berghofer’s Genetic Epidemiology Laboratory, involving the collaborative development of a new online BR test (with MAPRC) for large-scale data collection in genotyped cohorts of psychiatric and control subjects. This work aims to identify an endophenotype for BD that improves genome-wide association studies of the disorder and thus provide new insights into the pathophysiological and molecular mechanisms of its aetiology.
Research/Industry Collaboration Interests & PhD/DPsych projects
[A] Systems- to genetic-level mechanisms, individual differences (incl. clinical correlates), phylogeny/ontogeny and history of (i) perceptual rivalry, (ii) bistable/IHS phenomena, and (iii) vestibulocortical neuromodulation.
[B] Development of integrated/portable hardware (devices) and software applications for (i) perceptual rivalry viewing (e.g., 3D displays), data collection and analyses; (ii) probing IHS rhythms (incl. extended recording & real-time analyses); and (iii) inducing, recording and real-time analyses of vestibulocortical neuromodulation.
[C] Multi-platform development of candidate endophenotype perceptual and cognitive task measures for large-scale user-friendly testing in genotyped and at-risk/youth cohorts (e.g., web, mobile, tablet, gaming, virtual reality).
[D] Clinical applications of non-invasive vestibular neuromodulation, and the genetics and neuroimaging of its therapeutic response, with the aim of characterising novel electroceutical pathways and response biomarkers (e.g., gene-based associations with neuroplastic networks/pathways) across a spectrum of psychiatric and neurological diseases.
[E] Investigating the thesis that bistable (anti-phase) interhemispheric oscillations are a fundamental neurobiological mechanism — given they’re widely observed in several species (e.g., rodents, birds, cetaceans, humans, Drosophila) across diverse phenotypes such as biological rhythms (e.g., sleep/wake and menstrual cycles), autonomic functions, oculomotor activity, perception/attention and mood/behaviour changes. Investigations in this area will aim to determine whether the underlying genes, molecular mechanisms and neural network dynamics are conserved in nature, with significant implications for elucidating their potential clinical utility (e.g., early psychosis, BD, depression, PTSD).
Law PCF, Riddiford JA, Paton BK, Gurvich CT, Ngo TT, Miller SM (2015). No relationship between binocular rivalry rate and eye-movement profiles in healthy individuals: A Bayes factor analysis. Perception 44 (6): 643–661.
Palmer CJ, Paton BK, Ngo TT, Thomson RH, Hohwy J, Miller SM (2013). Individual differences in moral behaviour: A role for response to risk and uncertainty? Neuroethics 6 (1): 97–103.
Miller SM, Hansell NK, Ngo TT, Liu GB, Pettigrew JD, Martin NG, Wright MJ (2010). Genetic contribution to individual variation in binocular rivalry rate. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107 (6): 2664–2668.
Ngo TT, Liu GB, Tilley AJ, Pettigrew JD, Miller SM (2008). The changing face of perceptual rivalry. Brain Research Bulletin 75 (5): 610–618.
Ngo TT, Liu GB, Tilley AJ, Pettigrew JD, Miller SM (2007). Caloric vestibular stimulation reveals discrete neural mechanisms for coherence rivalry and eye rivalry: A meta-rivalry model. Vision Research 47 (21): 2685–2699.
Miller SM, Gynther BD, Heslop KR, Liu GB, Mitchell PB, Ngo TT, Pettigrew JD, Geffen LB (2003). Slow binocular rivalry in bipolar disorder. Psychological Medicine 33 (4): 683–692.
Miller SM, Liu GB, Ngo TT, Hooper G, Riek S, Carson RG, Pettigrew JD (2000). Interhemispheric switching mediates perceptual rivalry. Current Biology 10 (7): 383–392.
Ngo TT, Miller, SM, Liu GB, Pettigrew JD (2000). Binocular rivalry and perceptual coherence. Current Biology 10 (4): R134–R136.
Law PCF, Paton BK, Thomson RH, Liu GB, Miller SM, Ngo TT (2013). Dichoptic viewing methods for binocular rivalry research: Prospects for large-scale clinical and genetic studies. Twin Research and Human Genetics 16 (6): 1033–1078.
Miller SM, Ngo TT, van Swinderen B (2012). Attentional switching in humans and flies: Rivalry in large and miniature brains. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 5: 188.
Ngo TT, Mitchell PB, Martin NG, Miller SM (2011). Psychiatric and genetic studies of binocular rivalry: An endophenotype for bipolar disorder? Acta Neuropsychiatrica 23(1): 37–42.
Been G, Ngo TT, Miller SM, Fitzgerald PB (2007). The use tDCS and CVS as methods of non-invasive brain stimulation. Brain Research Reviews 56 (2): 346–361.
Miller SM, Ngo TT (2007). Studies of caloric vestibular stimulation: Implications for the cognitive neurosciences, the clinical neurosciences and neurophilosophy. Acta Neuropsychiatrica 19 (3): 183–203.
Ngo TT, Barsdell WN, Law PCF, Miller SM (2013). Binocular rivalry, brain stimulation and bipolar disorder. In S. M. Miller (Ed.), The constitution of visual consciousness: Lessons from binocular rivalry (pp. 211–252). Advances in Consciousness Research (Vol. 90). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Wade NJ, Ngo TT (2013). Early views on binocular rivalry. In S. M. Miller (Ed.), The constitution of visual consciousness: Lessons from binocular rivalry (pp. 77–108). Advances in Consciousness Research (Vol. 90). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Dr Wei Lin Toh
Wei Lin is a post-doctoral researcher within the Cognitive Neuropsychiatry Team at MAPrc, where she has been working since early 2014. In March this year, she commenced her position as the team coordinator.
Wei Lin completed her BA (Honours in Psychology) in 2006, following which she was awarded with a M.Psych/PhD (Clinical Psychology) from the University of Melbourne in 2011. During her postgraduate research, she compared cognition and perception in body dysmorphic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder with the aid of eye-tracking technology. Her postdoctoral research is currently focused on an in-depth examination of the phenomenological characteristics of voice-hearing experiences in relation to mood in bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder.
RN Division 1, RGON, SRN /Research Nurse
Heather Gilbert is an RN Division 1/Research Nurse at MAPrc. Heather has extensive clinical experience in Operating Theatre and PACU (Post Anaesthetic Care Unit) Nursing, Aged Care, Rehabilitation, IVF and District Nursing. Heather trained and worked as a Registered Nurse in Auckland, New Zealand, followed by several years of clinical practice in England, before moving to Melbourne, Australia in 2003.
Heather joined MAPrc in 2005, as a Research Nurse with the Psychopharmacology Team. In January 2006, Heather was invited to join the Women’s Mental Health Team, where she currently co-ordinates The National Register of Antipsychotic Medication in Pregnancy (NRAMP). This is an observational study which follows the pathway of women who are taking/have taken antipsychotic medication during pregnancy. We aim to establish evidence-based guidelines for the best use and effect of antipsychotic medication during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal phase, thereby assisting clinicians to make informed decisions in the management of women in their care. This stimulating and expansive role allows for further recruitment and networking opportunities across Australia. International involvement is also planned, and already includes colleagues in New Zealand.
Heather is involved in all aspects of department life, including support and mentoring of junior staff, assistance with team activities as required, venepuncture and ECG supervision, various committee memberships, article writing and conference presentations.
Gayan De Mel
Gayan De Mel BSc Hons.
Gayan De Mel is a Research Assistant with the Women's Mental Health team. He has previously worked as MAPrc's Women's Mental Health Clinic Coordinator and Administrator and as a study coordinator for phase III clinical trials in the psychopharmacology team. Gayan moved from London to Melbourne in 2012. He is currently working on a smoking harm reduction study in people with severe persistant mental illness.
Amelia Arnold BSc MRMed MWHMed
Amelia Arnold is a member of the Women’s Mental Health Team at MAPrc, a position she commenced in October 2016. She coordinates research into the effects of memantine on symptoms of Complex Trauma Disorder (otherwise known as Borderline Personality Disorder), and assists with the conduct of the National Register of Antipsychotic Medications in Pregnancy (NRAMP) with Ms Heather Gilbert. Amelia is also actively engaged in the promotion of the Women’s Mental Health team within the wider community and enjoys fostering working relationships with clinicians and services.
Amelia completed her Bachelor of Science (Psychology/Biomedical Science) at the University of Queensland, and her two Masters degrees in Women’s Health Medicine and Reproductive Medicine at the University of New South Wales. She moved to Melbourne in 2015 to further her career in research, having worked in a large IVF clinic in Brisbane with fertility patients. She also has a niche background in Phase 1 clinical research which is a unique asset to the team. The biological, psychological and social skills Amelia has developed are ideally suited to the intersectionality of research conducted within the Women’s Mental Health team.
Amelia is passionate about psychosocial research and the effects of gender, identity and relationships on mental health outcomes. She is active in her advocacy for marginalised groups in the psychiatric setting, including women and young people, those with comorbid or difficult to treat conditions, culturally and linguistically diverse people, and members of the LGBTIQ+ community.
Susan McQueen RN, RPN, MN (Mental Health), Grad Dip (Community Ed), Dip Applied Science
Susan is a registered general and psychiatric nurse. She recently completed a Master of Nursing (Mental Health) at Monash University. Susan has worked extensively in acute and community psychiatric facilities. She currently works on the Brain Stimulation and Neuroimaging Stream at MAPrc and is involved in transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) studies.
David Elliot PhD
David Elliot is a Research Nurse at MAPrc, a position he started in November 2009. David is currently part of the Psychopharmacology team working on medication trials.
David obtained his BNSc from The University of Melbourne in December 2008 following which he spent a year working on the acute inpatient psychiatric unit, first floor, at The Alfred Hospital. From 1999 to 2007, David ran his own business designing, manufacturing and wholesaling ceramic homewares. David completed his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Western Ontario, Canada in 1991. After a postdoctoral fellowship spent in Switzerland studying photovoltaic cells he found himself employed at the CSIRO in Clayton, Victoria in 1992. During his employment at the CSIRO (1992 -1999), David studied the fabrication and optical properties of ultrasmall semiconductor particles in thin films.
Lenore Wambeek RPN
Lenore is a member of the Brain Stimulation and Neurosciences team She currently works on the Brain Stimulation and Neuroimaging Stream at MAPrc and is involved in transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).
Kirsten joined the Brain Stimulation and Neurosciences team in 2016. She is a research assistant working with Associate Professor Kate Hoy.
Caitlyn Rogers joined the Psychiatric Neurotechnology Team as a Research Assistant to Prof. Paul Fitzgerald and Assoc. Prof Kate Hoy in 2016.
Laura joined the Therapeutic brain stimulation team as a research assistant in 2016.
Caley is a research assistant in the Brain Stimulation team.