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Associate Professor (Research)
School of Medicine
Role and profile
A/Prof Felice Jacka is an NHMRC Research Fellow within the Barwon Psychiatric Research Unit based at Barwon Health in Geelong. Over the last seven years A/Prof Jacka has been developing an innovative program of research that examines how individuals’ diets 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.
A/Prof Jacka’s ongoing program of research incorporates a broad range of epidemiological and public health investigations, with extensive partnerships and collaborations in Australia and elsewhere involving the acknowledged experts in the field of psychiatry and public health. The program spans the spectrum of research, comprising detailed investigations of biological mechanisms and drivers of the relationships between lifestyle and mental health, such as biomarkers; to familial, demographic and social contributors to both lifestyle and mental health; through to the development of community based interventions. It aims to yield new knowledge that will be readily translated and will be aimed at informing public policy. The primary goal is to develop a coherent public health message and effective, best-practice strategies for the universal primary prevention of the common mental disorders.
Mental disorders such as depression and anxiety are highly prevalent, disabling and have major social, psychological and biological consequences. To date, psychiatry has focused on treatment of established disorders over an examination of the role of modifiable risk factors in the development of these conditions. A/Prof Jacka’s research has now helped to elucidate the potentially crucial relationship between diet and mental health. This novel research is now transforming our current understanding regarding the genesis of depressive and anxiety disorders and supports the development of a coherent primary prevention message for mental illness. Such a message is likely to lead to better outcomes for those affected by depressive and anxiety disorders and reduce the public health burden of such illnesses in the community.
She has been responsible for AU $1,692,727 in project grant research funding as CI since 2003, and has garnered a further AU $415,160 in award funding since 2005.
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