Our research

Research conducted at IMPACT spans clinical, epidemiological and laboratory-based research. We support the School of Medicine’s focus on neuroscience, and musculoskeletal and metabolic disease.

Featured staff

Meet just a few of our leading researchers producing world-class outcomes.

Alfred Deakin Professor Michael Berk

Visit profile

Professor Julie Pasco

Visit profile

Associate Professor Felice Jacka

Visit profile

Our research priorities

Clinical trials that investigate:

  • Novel therapies
  • Biomarkers for physical and mental disease
  • Online psychological interventions
  • Lifestyle interventions
  • Drug safety

Population-based, epidemiological studies that investigate:

  • Incidence and prevalence of disease
  • Disease risk factors and outcomes
  • Burden of disease and associated costs
  • Diagnostic testing
  • Health service utilisation
  • Healthy ageing

Laboratory-based studies that investigate:

  • Novel therapies
  • Treatment mechanisms and effects of pharmacological agents
  • Structural properties of bone
  • Muscle power and balance

Our research is shaping evidence-based practice and informing policy decisions that play key roles in improving the health and wellbeing for men and women.

Julie Pasco

Professor

Our studies

The following studies are conducted within the psychiatric arm of IMPACT.

Mino UD trial

This study is trialling minocycline as an adjunct to usual treatment for depression. This is a world-first trial exploring the use of an old agent for a completely new purpose. 

The draw card of this approach is that the medication has an established safety profile and is available after completion of the study. It involves adults who attend a series of interviews over the course of 16 weeks.

Mito NAC trial

This trial involves N-acetyl cysteine, known as NAC, in combination with other nutraceutical agents as a potential new treatment for bipolar disorder. It's an exciting trial that focuses on balancing energy production and thereby improving symptoms. 

The study involves adults who have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and are currently experiencing depression. Participants attend a series of interviews over the course of 20 weeks.

YoDA-A trial

This trial involves rosuvastatin and aspirin as treatments for youth depression. It's a requirement that study participants are currently undergoing treatment at Orygen Youth Health Clinical Program, Headspace Sunshine, Headspace Glenroy or Barwon Health.

MoodSwings

There has been continued growth in online psychological interventions both in research and as a way of delivering psychologist services. These interventions overcome barriers to accessing specialist programs and services, particularly in areas where such programs are non-existent. 

After successfully obtaining funding from the NIH, IMPACT is collaborating with Stanford University to further evaluate MoodSwings, one of the first online self-help programs for Bipolar Disorder.

Find out more about MoodSwings

SMILES

SMILES is a world-first trial that aims to answer the question: 'If I improve my diet, will my mental health improve?'

As such, we've recruited approximately 200 adults suffering from major depression and randomised them to either a social support condition or an intensive dietary intervention. The dietary intervention comprises counselling, advice, education and support for a period of three months. The impact of dietary improvement on their depressive symptoms at the end of the trial period is then examined. 

This trial is being conducted at Barwon Health in Geelong and St Vincent's Hospital in Melbourne.

Bipolar health and lifestyle

The Bipolar Disorder Health and Lifestyle Study is an observational study currently recruiting participants from Geelong and the surrounding regions. This study aims to investigate a host of health and lifestyle factors associated with bipolar disorder, including bone health. 

Findings from this project may be used to inform public policy and health service delivery, leading to improved treatment and health outcomes for people with bipolar disorder.

For more information please contact Amanda Stuart on (03) 4215 3308 or via email: bipolar@barwonhealth.org.au

The following studies are conducted by the Epi-Centre for Healthy Ageing (ECHA), nested within our strategic research centre.

Geelong Osteoporosis Study (GOS)

The Geelong Osteoporosis Study (GOS) is a population-based health study that prospectively documents clinical and environmental data for large contemporary cohorts of young, middle-aged and elderly men and women. The primary purpose is to identify modifiable factors that influence the trajectory of healthy ageing and to discover ways to slow the onset of frailty and maintain autonomy in the elderly.

This distinctive program of research focuses on understanding the progression of chronic metabolic and musculoskeletal disorders including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and sarcopenia, cognitive decline, and the nexus between physical and mental health. An important component of this research is to facilitate knowledge transfer from research into clinical practice and into the community.

Geelong Osteoporosis Study Fracture Grid

The Geelong Osteoporosis Study Fracture Grid is a unique and comprehensive database. It records fractures and monitors fracture rates in the Barwon Statistical Division in south-eastern Australia.

The Fracture Grid comprises fractures confirmed by x-ray and includes all fractures occurring in the region since its inception in 1994. This important resource is used to define the burden of fractures in the population, describe patterns of fracture according to age, sex and fracture site and follow changes in the pattern of fractures over time. 

Over a defined 12 month period, men and women who sustained an incident fracture were invited to complete a detailed questionnaire regarding the fracture event, risk factors, fracture treatment and impact on lifestyle. This is known as the ProFrac study.

Vitamin D in Pregnancy (VIP) study

This prospective study, initiated in 2002, demonstrated that maternal serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) level during late gestation was associated with infant long bone length at birth. 

We have recently recalled the mother-child pairs for assessment as the children in the birth cohort turn 10-11 years of age. This provides a novel opportunity to investigate the relationship between gestational vitamin D levels and important indices of childhood growth. This includes body size, proportions and composition, adiposity, muscle mass, bone geometry, density and estimated bone strength. 

We're also measuring the children's allergic response and behavioural development.

Ageing, Chronic Disease and Injury (ACDI) study

The ACDI study commenced in 2015 to document the pattern of chronic disease and injury, and investigate its relationship with ageing in western Victoria. 

Drawing on new and existing data, the study will provide a platform for describing the current health status of older individuals living in the study region and form the basis for projecting the future burden of chronic disease and injury.