A/Prof. Adrienne O'Neil



Associate Professor (Research)


Faculty of Health


School of Medicine





Associate Professor Adrienne O’Neil is the Director of Heart and Mind Research at IMPACT and Deputy Director of Food and Mood Centre. Her co-appointment is funded by the Heart Foundation as part of a Future Leader Fellowship and the Wilson Foundation. She is a behavioural scientist who has been researching the link between mental and cardiovascular health for over a decade. A key part of her work is investigating the role that lifestyle plays in the onset and outcomes of depression and cardiovascular disease, both respectively, in relation to each other and when they co-occur. She works with the team at the Food and Mood Centre to apply learnings from cardiology and other areas of chronic disease prevention and management to psychiatry. Adrienne completed her doctoral training at the School of Public Health & Preventive Medicine, Monash University and international post-doctoral training at Stanford University. Upon her return to Australia, she spent 5 years at the School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne. She has over 100 publications and has received 10+ years of Category 1 personnel funding.

Read more on Adrienne's profile

Career highlights

For >10 years, A/Prof O’Neil has been supported by Category 1 personnel funding (2009-2021), receiving $3+ mil of competitive funding from NHMRC,
Australian Research Council, National Heart Foundation, University of Melbourne, Deakin University, the Meat and Livestock Council and the Australian Foundation for Mental Health Research. Relative to opportunity, she has been highly productive, publishing over 100 scientific
articles in chronic disease prevention and control. Two thirds (70%) of her publications are first/senior author; 5 rank in the top 1% of their discipline. Since 2014, she has had a rapidly increasing number of citations (3127) (averaging 550 per year). In 2017, she had a FWCI of 7.5.  A/Prof O’Neil has 1st author publications in Lancet, Circulation and BMC Medicine; all prestigious, top ranked journals in medicine. She completed her international post-doctoral research at Stanford University’s School of Medicine.

In addition to numerous competitive fellowships, A/Prof O’Neil has
received prestigious awards. In 2017, she received the Australasian Epidemiology Association’s Mid-Career Researcher Award. In 2013, she was named the AFFIRM Early Career Researcher of the Year by the Australasian Society of Psychiatric Research. In 2009, she was named the highest Ranked
Scholar in Public Health, National Heart Foundation.

She has given numerous international and national plenaries.Since 2013, she has supervised 2 PhDs, 4 Honours and 2 international medical research trainee students to completion.


Honorary, Melbourne School of Population & Global Health, University of Melbourne

Knowledge areas

Behavioural medicine; lifestyle interventions; epidemiology; public health; health services; psychiatry; chronic disease; non communicable diseases; gender/sex research.


A/Prof O'Neil leads the following studies:
a) Intermittent Fasting as a Therapeutic Approach to Heart Failure: A Pilot Study 
Recent animal studies have provide important clues for a new therapeutic approach to Chronic Heart Failure; caloric restriction via intermittent fasting (IF). In rat models of CHF, 6 weeks of IF on alternate days reduced body weight and successfully reversed cardiovascular damage. Relative risk of death was reduced by 84%. 12 months of IF further reversed symptoms via pro-angiogenic, anti-apoptotic and anti-remodelling effects. A recent study of patients with a subtype of CHF (without reduced ejection fraction) showed caloric restriction was safe and feasible over 20 weeks, with positive effects on symptom severity. Taken together, IF presents as a plausible and promising therapeutic approach for CHF. We are conducting a pilot study of 10 patients to investigate whether IF has short term health benefits and is feasible for patients with CHF with reduced ejection fraction over 12 weeks. IF could be a novel, adjunctive approach to current management of CHF.

b) Associations between depression, anxiety & autonomic function in acute coronary syndrome patients: the ADVENT study (NHMRC funding; Co-Investigator & Project Director)
From 2012-14, we conducted a cohort study in 416 heart attack patients to determine how mental health symptoms cluster 2 years after discharge. We were especially interested in how autonomic nervous system assessed by heart rate variability moderated long term outcomes. A/P O'Neil is researching psychophysiological mechanisms underpinning the associations between somatic subtypes of depression and anxiety as predictors of 5 year readmission and mortality. 

c) The relationship between work-home stressors and cardiovascular risk: an ecological momentary assessment study of Victorian workers (University of Melbourne funding; Lead Investigator)
Resting heart rate (HR) is a good marker of overall health. The prognostic value of HR during sleep has only recently been realised. During sleep, the CV system has a chance to rest, reflected by a “dip” in HR compared with waking resting HR. The absence, or blunting, of nocturnal HR dipping has been related to CV and all-cause mortality independent of blood pressure dipping and of other confounding factors. Evidence from blood pressure research has shown that job strain and other psychosocial factors can predict nocturnal blood pressure non-dipping. Given that nocturnal blunting in HR appears an early indicator of CVD incidence, this study uses ecological momentary assessment techniques to identify modifiable risk factors and protective factors that predict this phenomenon. The study is conducted over 14 days in a cohort of Victorian workers across 3 organisations. Findings may guide CV primary prevention strategies especially in the context of burnout at work now that it has been recognised by the World Health Organisation as a health condition.

d) The impact of maternal adversity on the cardiovascular health of offspring: the ALSPAC longitudinal study of mothers and children (University of Melbourne funding; Lead Investigator)
Prenatal psychological stress, as a component of social adversity has been linked to intrauterine growth restriction and an increased risk of premature birth; in turn elevating a child’s risk of developing heart disease in later life. This study will determine whether social adversity experienced by mother’s during pregnancy influences the long-term CV trajectory of offspring, and the epigenetic pathways by which this may occur. Data from over 14,000 pregnant women and their children enrolled in the well-established ALSPAC study, a world-leading, birth cohort study conducted in the United Kingdom, will be used to answer these questions.


No publications found

Funded Projects at Deakin

Australian Competitive Grants

Improving morbidity and mortality outcomes of patients with mental health symptoms following acute coronary syndrome (ACS)

A/Prof Adrienne O'Neil

NHF Future Leader Fellowship - National Heart Foundation of Australia

  • 2020: $133,000
  • 2019: $161,191

Evaluating the effectiveness of lifestyle therapy versus standard psychotherapy for reducing depression in adults with COVID-19 related distress: The CALM trial

A/Prof Adrienne O'Neil, Prof Felice Jacka, Prof Murat Yucel, Prof Jane Speight, Dr Pilvikki Absetz, A/Prof Vincent Versace, Dr Megan Teychenne, Simon Rosenbaum, Dr Mary Lou Chatterton

MRFF (NHMRC) - COVID-19 Mental Health Research Grant

  • 2020: $885,302

Other Public Sector Funding

Evidence gaps advice on loneliness, social isolation and chronic conditions.

Prof Sharon Brennan-Olsen, Prof Vicki White, Prof Beth Crisp, A/Prof Steve Bowe, A/Prof Adrienne O'Neil, A/Prof Lana Williams, Dr Patrick Owen, Dr Lidia Engel, Dr Matthew Dunn, Dr Fiona McKay, Dr James Lucas, Dr Sharon Horwood, Mrs Frances Beard

  • 2021: $32,128

Industry and Other Funding

Lipid management for women following Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS): A narrative review of the sex-specific efficacy of lipid lowering pharmacotherapy in women.

A/Prof Adrienne O'Neil

  • 2020: $18,308
  • 2019: $22,377

The development of the BUB (Bugs, Unborns and Bugs) mHealth program

Prof Felice Jacka, A/Prof Adrienne O'Neil, Dr Heidi Staudacher

  • 2021: $68,174
  • 2020: $66,470

A Listening and Learning Healthcare System approach to improve outcomes for acute-care mental health consumers in the Barwon-Southwest Victoria Region.

Prof Anna Peeters, Prof Steven Allender, Prof Sharon Brennan-Olsen, Prof Michael Berk, A/Prof Olivia Dean, Prof Felice Jacka, A/Prof Adrienne O'Neil, A/Prof Melissa O'Shea, Prof Rajesh Vasa, A/Prof Michael Johnstone, A/Prof Martin Hensher, Dr Josh Hayward, Dr Elijah Marangu, Prof Alison Hutchinson, Dr Mary Lou Chatterton, Miss Sally Buchanan-Hagen

  • 2021: $59,284


Principal Supervisor

Claire Young

Thesis entitled: A Digital Dietary Intervention for Depression: Development, Optimisation and Feasibility

Doctor of Philosophy (Medicine), School of Medicine