The small executive team of MAPrc comprises Professor Jayashri Kulkarni, Director, Professor Paul Fitzgerald, Deputy Director and Anthony de Castella, Research Manager. The group has been working together since 1994 and has functioned as a close knit “engine” for originally the Dandenong Psychiatry Research Centre and now the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre, MAPrc.
Professor Jayashri Kulkarni
MBBS, MPM, FRANZCP, PhD
Jayashri Kulkarni commenced her appointment as Professor of Psychiatry, The Alfred and Monash University in 2002. She directs a large psychiatric research group, the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre (MAPrc), which has a team of over 100 staff and post-graduate students from medicine, nursing, psychology, allied health, science, and health information services. Funding for this group comes from a number of national and international project grants plus industry collaboration.
Jayashri Kulkarni is a Monash University Medical School graduate and was an Alfred Hospital medical student. She became a Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists in 1989.
Jayashri Kulkarni was appointed as the first Associate Professor/Director of Psychiatry to Dandenong Hospital, Department of Psychiatry in 1994. She founded and directed the Dandenong Psychiatry Research Centre (DPRC) and the Monash University Research Centre for Women's Mental Health.
Jayashri Kulkarni was the Director of Psychiatry of Dandenong Area Mental Health Service (DAMHS) for eight years.
Research undertaken by Professor Kulkarni commenced in 1988, and then expanded upon founding the Research Centre at Dandenong. She was awarded a PhD from Monash University in 1997 for her thesis titled "Women and Psychosis". A major area of her research involved psychoneuroendocrine studies of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis in women with schizophrenia. She has also conducted many other studies in the area of gender differences in schizophrenia. Recently, several studies using estrogen as a treatment for women with schizophrenia have been conducted and the results have received considerable national and international attention from 1998 onwards.
Jayashri Kulkarni has conducted clinical studies in schizophrenia including Prolactin and growth hormone challenge tests, atrial natriuretic peptide changes, rapid/slow eye movement changes, platelet dopamine uptake studies, a dopamine infusion study in Parkinson's Disease, a validation study of DSM IV Psychotic Disorders Criteria, several studies in the area of first episode psychosis including the development of a community-based approach to the treatment of early psychosis studies in cannabis and psychosis and recently a three year follow up quality of life and health economics study of 300 patients with schizophrenia. Other research projects are being conducted in electrophysiology of schizophrenia with EEG and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. Several studies in the area of cannabis and psychosis are also being conducted.
Professor Kulkarni has presented her research at many international and national conferences. She was invited in 1998 to speak on her work at the Institute for Mental Health Research in Mannheim, Germany and has also been a keynote speaker at Schizophrenia Conferences in Davos (Switzerland), Stockholm, USA, UK, New Zealand and throughout Australia. Jayashri received a Travelling Research Scholarship in 1997 from Janssen Cilag and the Australasian Psychiatry Research Organon Research prize in 1995. She has co-edited a book on "Women and Schizophrenia" for Cambridge University Press and has written two chapters in a book on "The Recognition and Management of Schizophrenia" - Cambridge University Press. Jayashri was the Deputy Chairperson for the Victorian Ministerial Advisory Committee on Mental Health, and is currently a Member of the Forensic Leave Panel, and is on the Psychosurgery Review Board, the advisory boards of the pharmaceutical companies Janssen Cilag and Pfizer, and the Ministerial Expert Committee on Cannabis and Psychosis. Jayashri was a finalist in the Telstra Business Women's Awards in 2001.
Professor Kulkarni has received multiple grants during her research career. These have included National Health & Medical Research Council (NH&MRC) project grants, Eli Lilly, Janssen Cilag, and Bristol Myer Squibb investigator initiated research grants, funding from the Stanley Foundation (Washington), NARSAD (New York) and several Victorian Government Health & Human Services innovative practice grants.
Professor Paul Fitzgerald
MBBS, MPM, PhD, FRANZCP
Professor Paul Fitzgerald is Deputy Director of MAPrc, Professor of Psychiatry, and Consultant Psychiatrist at Alfred Psychiatry. He also runs an academic program at The Victoria Clinic, a private psychiatric hospital in Prahran. He is a qualified psychiatrist, has a Masters of Psychological Medicine and research PhD.
Professor Fitzgerald runs a substantive research program utilising brain stimulation and neuroimaging techniques including transcranial magnetic stimulation, functional and structural MRI, EEG and near infrared spectroscopy.
The primary focus of this program is on the development of new brain stimulation based treatments for psychiatric disorders. There is a special focus on severe or treatment resistant depression but treatments are also being investigated in other disorders including schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, chronic pain and autism spectrum disorders. Treatments which have been developed or investigated within our research group include repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), magnetic seizure therapy (MST) and deep brain stimulation (DBS). This program of research includes developing and improving methods of treatment application and the conduct of clinical trials.
In support of the development of new treatments, our research is also focused on the conduct of investigative studies of brain function & dysfunction in these disorders. These studies aim to better characterise brain changes underlying the symptoms of psychiatric disorders to directly improve the application of novel therapies. These studies will hopefully also lead to the identification of biological markers or predictors of response to treatment.
In addition, our research group aims to develop and improve the devices used for characterising brain abnormalities or used in the application of brain stimulation. We work with a number of commercial partners and have developed designs for novel brain stimulation related devices which are currently under development.
Professor Fitzgerald has published over 270 papers in a range of peer reviewed journals. He has received project grant funding from the NHMRC, ARC as well as a number of US based and local funding organisations. He is supported by a NHMRC Practitioner Fellowship award.
Professor Fitzgerald was an elected board Member of the International Society for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (ISTS) and was an invited member of the World Federation of Biological Psychiatry Taskforce on Brain Stimulation (2006-2009). He is currently a committee member for the Electroconvulsive Therapy and Neurostimulation Special Interest Group with The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, and serves on the board of directors for Neurosciences Victoria. He is Psychiatric deputy editor for the journal ‘Brain Stimulation’ and is on the Editorial Boards of ‘Psychiatry Research’ and the ‘Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry’. He was awarded a National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD) Young Investigator Award in 2003 and 2005 and the Australasian Society for Psychiatric Research Eli Lily Oration in 2012.
Anthony de Castella
Dip App Sci, BA, M App Sci
Anthony de Castella is Research Manager and a Research Fellow at MAPrc. Anthony commenced work with MAPrc in 1994 when the group was based at Dandenong hospital. Anthony originally trained as a general registered nurse, before completing a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Psychology and Psychophysiology. Subsequently, he completed a Masters of Applied Science by research in Psychophysiology at SwinburneUniversity. His thesis examined variations in resting EEG across the menstrual cycle in women with schizophrenia.
Anthony’s research interests include women’s mental health, psychopharmacology, problem gambling and mental illness, and healthy lifestyles for people with schizophrenia.