Aims and objectives

Severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder, major depression and major anxiety disorders are still crippling disorders. These illnesses severely affect the quality of the sufferer’s life, and can even shorten life expectancy. The affected person’s family suffers greatly as a result and there is a huge cost to the community, both through the burden of care of the sufferer and the loss of that individual’s contribution to our community.

We still do not have treatments that are effective enough to restore the person as well as treat symptoms. Treatments need to be specifically tailored, unlike current treatments that tend to be 'one size fits all'. Some treatments create side-effects that are even more troubling than the illness itself. The discovery of new treatments in psychiatry has been hampered by a lack of sufficient funding and resources to properly develop and test new clinical approaches.

Often ideas or discoveries fail to transfer across from the laboratory or 'bench' to clinical practice due to a traditional 'silo' mentality in research environments, which tend to be set up to restrict researchers’ work to a narrow domain. MAPrc researchers are encouraged to work across the 'bench', 'bedside' and public health domains, in order to help the process of translating discoveries into new treatments. MAPrc is based in a busy city teaching hospital, The Alfred, placing us in the ideal setting to identify specific clinical problems or symptoms and to consider ideas for new treatments.

Researchers working away from the clinical environment have fewer opportunities to connect their work with the real issues facing people with mental illness. The immediacy of hospital and clinic settings is an important stimulus that helps us turn clinical observations into hypotheses and ultimately new treatments. By adopting this broad biopsychosocial approach, without a bias towards any one discipline of medicine, neuroscience or the arts, MAPrc researchers are ideally placed to make use of any and all available modalities to develop new treatments.

 MAPrc Multidisciplinary Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre, Level 4, 607 St Kilda Road, Melbourne 3004