Staff profile - Craig Olsson

Staff image

Prof Craig Olsson

Position: Professor
role description
Faculty or Division: Faculty of Health
Department: School of Psychology
Campus: Geelong Waterfront Campus
Phone: +61 3 52278428 +61 3 52278428



A/Prof Craig Olsson has a PhD in Developmental Psychology and specialises in longitudinal and life-course research with a particular focus on child and adolescence development. He has post doctoral training in human genetics, epidemiology and statistical genetics and has been based at the Murdoch Chidrens Research Institute (Melbourne Royal Childrens Hospital) since 2000. He is the current National Convener of the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) Longitudinal Studies Network (LSN). This network brings together around 20 mature longitudinal studies of child and adolescent health and development in Australia and New Zealand with the aim of informing innovation in prevention practice and policy. He is the current Scientific Director of The Australian Temperament Project, an Australian Research Council (ARC) funded 30 year (15 wave) longitudinal study of around 2,400 Australians followed from birth. This study is now following cohort offspring with the aim of understanding more about intergenerational cycles of mental health and disorder. He is Deputy Director of The Victorian Adolescent Health Offspring Cohort, a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funded study of children born to a 20 year (10 wave) longitudinal study of around 2000 Victorians followed from puberty to adulthood. He also has Chief Investigator roles on a further two life course studies: the Childhood to Adolescence Transition Cohort, a NHMRC funded longitudinal study of around 2,000 children followed across puberty from age 8 to 13-years; and the Triple B Cohort, a NHMRC funded longitudinal study of around 2,000 expecting parents followed from early pregnancy into the first year postpartum (University of New South Wales). He maintains important collaborations with: the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health Cohort Study (University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand), the Western Australian Pregnancy Study (Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Perth), the International Youth Development Study (MCRI and Washington University, USA), a longitudinal studies consortium investigating psychosocial sequalae of cannabis use (NDARC), and the Norwegian HUNT study (a population capture cohort N>70,000). Across his Post Doctoral career at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, A/Prof Craig Olsson has led and contributed to grants in excess of $9.5 million from the NHMRC, ARC and various philantrophic organisations.

Biography summary

A/Prof Craig Olsson completed his PhD in Developmental Psychology at the University of Melbourne in 2000. Between 2000 and 2011 was based at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (Melbourne). In 2011 he moved to Deakin University. He is an Australian Research Council (ARC) Principal Research Fellow, and ARC Discovery Outstanding Researcher Awardee (2013-2016). He has a particular interest in genetic and environmental determinants of mental and behavioural disorders. He has wide experience in developmental, epidemiological and genetic/epigenetic studies.

Publication Output: Over the past 10 years he led and co-led nationally competitive research grants totalling over $11 million, and has produced 80 scientific publications which have resulted in more than 1400 citations. His H-index is 21. His highest impact paper has more than 350 citations. Over the past 5 years his average citation rate has been > 200 citations per year, reflecting papers which have become seminal references in his field of research.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Melbourne,

Career highlights

During his PhD, A/Prof Olsson was involved in the evaluation of a Chronic Illness Peer Support Program at the Melbourne Royal Children’s Hospital which achieved a Victorian Public Health Award for Excellence in Service Delivery (1999) and a Premier’s Excellence Award (Victorian Public Healthcare Awards) in 2010. In his early postdoctoral career, he was awarded a competitive research fellowship he received from the North American Alliance for Depression and Schizophrenia Research (NARSAD) for his work on gene-environment interactions in mental disorder. In 2005 this work was subsequently recognized in an Award for Research Excellence in Psychiatric Genetics (NARSAD, New York), and a second award from the Education Foundation of America Investigator Award. Most recently, in 2013, he was awarded a Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award for his work following offspring of the Australian Temperament Project.


Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne.

Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, University of Western Australia.

Honorary Fellow, Psychological Services, The University of Melbourne.

Fellow, Australian Research Council.


Teaching Interests

A/Professor Olsson has been appointed in a Research Intensive role within the School of Psychology. He is the Geelong HDR coordinator (with Dr Lucy Zinkiewicz) and currently supervises eight PhD, two Doctoral, four Masters, and two 4th year students, and one Graduate Diploma student.

Knowledge areas

Epidemiology, Genetics, Prevention, Psychology, Public Health

Student supervision


PhD & Doctorates

2013 Deakin University
Genome-wide association study of stress sensitive behaviours in infancy

2013 Deakin University 
Pre-conception predictors of infant attachment behaviours

2013 Deakin University 
Pre-conception predictors of infant attachment behaviours

2013 Deakin University
Long-term sequelae of reading difficulties: findings from the Australian Temperament Project

2012 to date Deakin University 
Pre-conception predictors of maternal-child attachment

2012 to date Deakin University 
Pre-conception predictors of pregnancy miscarriage

2010 to date Deakin University 
Experiences of young people with acquired brain injury in age-care residential homes

2009-to date University of Melbourne
The Role of the Serotonin Transporter Gene, Brain Structure and Family Environment in the Emergence of Depression during Adolescence

2009-to date University of Melbourne
Three generation transmission of life satisfaction

Clinial Masters

2012 to date Deakin University 
Predictors of adolescent pro-social behaviour and civic engagement


PhD & Doctorates

2005-2013 University of Melbourne
The role of hedonic and eudaimonic values in adolescent wellbeing

2011-2013 University of Melbourne
Can School Connectedness Reduce the Continuity of Adolescent Depressive Symptoms?

2011-2013 Deakin University
Predictors, natural history and consequences of teen cannabis use

2007 to 2010 Deakin University 
Gestational predictors of Post Natal Depression

2000-2004 University of Melbourne 
Adolescent health compromising behaviours among survivors of childhood cancer

2009-2012 University of Melbourne
Foundations of teenage pro-sociality

2009-2012 Institute of Public Health, Olso Norway
Associations of adolescent depressive symptoms with subsequent pregnancy completion and termination in young adulthood

Clinical Masters

2009 University of Melbourne
Association between child sexual abuse and problematic alcohol use in adulthood


2012 Deakin University
Association between adolescent binge drinking and young adult antisocial behaviour

2012 Deakin University
Association between parent-child bonding in late childhood and disordered eating in early adolescence

2012 Deakin University
Association between community opportunity for prosocial engagement and binge drinking in adolescence

2009 University of Melbourne
Association between personality disorder and alcohol abuse in adulthood

2009 Monash University
Psychometric development of the Parental Bonding Index

2008 Deakin University
Association between personality disorder and sexual risk taking

2006 Deakin University
Impact of termination on maternal health

2001 University of Melbourne 
Questionnaire development: siblings adjustment to chronic illness in another’s sibling


Awards and prizes

2013: Australian Research Council “Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award”, Australian Government

2012: Award for Innovation, Faculty of Health Award, Deakin University Australia (internal award)

2010: Premier’s Excellence Award (Victorian Public Healthcare Awards)
Chronic Illness Peer Support (ChIPS) program, Royal Children’s Hospital.

2005: Award for Research Excellence in Psychiatric Genetics, Presented at the North American Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression Gala Ball, New York.

2005: Education Foundation of America Investigator Award

2004: Young Investigator Award, North American Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression.

1999: Victorian Public Health Award for Excellence in Service Delivery Chronic Illness Peer Support (ChIPS) program, Royal Children’s Hospital.

1988: Australian Citizen Award.


Research projects

2013 to present: Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY), National Research Fund Committee Member.

2012 to present: Australian Research Council D.O.R.A. Fellow (Discovery Outstanding Achievement Award)

2011 to present: Associate Professor, Developmental and Biological Psychology, Deakin University, Geelong Waterfront Campus, Australia.

2011 to present: National Convener, Longitudinal Studies Network, Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY).

2011 to present: Adolescence Affinity Group Leader, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital Campus, Melbourne Australia.

2009 to present: Deputy Director, Adolescent Health Research,
Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital Campus, Melbourne Australia.

2008 to present: Senior Research Fellow, Victorian Intergenerational Health Cohort Study, Adolescent Health, Royal Children’s Hospital Campus, Melbourne Australia.

Research interests

A/Prof Olssons primary research focus is on reducing burden of disease due to mental and behavioural disorders through enhancing preventive intervention. His research addresses two related questions: (1) how social and genetic processes (both within and across generations) act to shape individual differences in sensitivity to life events, and (2) how insights into individual differences in sensitivity can be used to ensure optimal targeting of at-risk groups and the best alignment of resources for effective prevention. He has a strong interest in promoting student knowledge and use of longitudinal data resources within the ARACY LSN and can provide unique access to data for student theses and journal publication. He would welcome any enquiries from students interested in the aetiology of common mental health problems with the aim of informing new approaches to designing effective preventive intervention.

Research grants

Total Research Grants 1996-2015 $11,023,888

Insufficient space to provide full details of all grants.

2013-2015 ARC Linkage Grant. The impact of outdoor programs on positive adolescent development: an empirical evaluation. CI B $450,000

2013-2015 ARC Discovery Grant. Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award. Fellowship Recipient $461,000

2013-2015 ARC Discovery Grant. Pre-conception predictors of early childhood social and emotional development: A 30 year longitudinal study of grandparents, parents and children CI A $500,000

2011-2015 NHMRC Project Grant. Pubertal transitions in mental health and behaviour: the PHASE-A study of social roleand lifestyle transitions
CI I $1,572,018

2012-2014 ARC Discovery Grant. Early puberty and brain development: exploring the neurobiology of adolescent mental health
CI F $280,000

2010-2013 NHMRC Project Grant.  Impact of parental alcohol, tobacco and other substance use on infant development and family functioning, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of NSW
CI F $1,910,470

2011-2013 NHMRC Project Grant.  Adolescent and young adult parental antecedent of health and development in the first year of life
CI B $547,213

2011-2013 NHMRC Project Grant. Mental Disorders and the Social Transitions of Adulthood: a 20-year follow-up of the Victorian Adolescent Health Cohort Study
CI C $426,879

2013 Deakin University School Grant. MiSeq Personal Sequencer  $115,000

2012 Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing Research strategic research funds (interval grant – Deakin University)  $31,238.60.

2011 Foundation for Children. CI A $79,841

2011 Stride Foundation. CI A $15,000

2009-2011 ARC Discovery Grant. CI B $390,000

2006-2011 VicHealth Post Doctoral Fellowship.  CI A $525,000

2010 NHMRC Project Grant. AI $284,472

2010 Youth Programs Consortium. CI C $98,224

2007-2009 NHMRC Project Grant: Healthy Start to Life. CI B $639,649

2009 NHMRC Project Grant. AI $457,200

2008 Perpetual Trustees.  CI A $260,000

2008 Perpetual Trustees.  CI A $98,000

2008 Tattersals. CI B $50,000

2006 Colonial Foundation. CI A $150,000

2006 Mazda Foundation. CI B $61,000

2006 Australian Rotary Mental Health Research Fund. CI A $60,000

2005 NHMRC Project Grant.  AI $444,100

2005 Perpetual Trustees. CI A $50,000

2005 Patterson Family. CI A $50,000

2005 People & Parks. CI A $46,250

2005 William Buckland Foundation.  CI A $24,900

2005 MI7. CI A $21,000

2004 National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression.  CI A $80,000

2004 RE Ross Trust. CI A $47,500

2002 Perpetual Trust.  CI A $79,000

2000 MCRI.  CI C $450,000

1999 RCH Research Foundation.  CI C $28,000

1999 Oncology Research Grant, RCH.  CI B $90,000

1999 NHMRC. AI $90,000

1998 Department of Human Services.  CI A $1,300

1996 Victorian Health Promotion Foundation. CI B $90,873

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