Professor Michael Farrell, Director of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) and Theme Principal for the UNSW Medicine Neuroscience, Mental Health and Addiction Theme, and NDARC researchers Dr Ryan Courtney and Dr Emily Stockings recently attended a workshop at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) Institute of Neuroscience (ION) in Shanghai, China, aimed at matching UNSW researchers with counterparts at CAS ION.
The visit forms part of the UNSW 2025 Strategy and was initiated by UNSW Vice Chancellor Ian Jacobs and Professor Jie Zhang, formerly President of Shanghai Jiao Tong University who held high level talks in late 2017 to develop a research partnership between UNSW and the CAS ION in Shanghai, China. The ensuing UNSW-CAS Neuroscience Workshop was held at the ION on 23 and 24 July 2018, in Shanghai, China [see photo 1 and 2].
The two-day program was co-chaired by Professor Ana Deletic, UNSW Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research, and Prof Mu-Ming Poo, Director, ION, and involved a series of in-depth presentations, showcasing the impressive body of work conducted by researchers at UNSW and CAS. The program was divided into three key themes: Biomedical Engineering and Basic Neuroscience, Ageing and Cognitive Impairment, and Mental Illness and Addiction.
- Professor Farrell chaired the session on Mental Illness and Addiction and gave an overview of projects underway at NDARC, with a focus on treatment innovations for opioid dependence in Australia.
- Dr Courtney summarised key clinical trials exploring novel and innovative treatments for improved smoking cessation.
- Dr Stockings gave an overview of the epidemiological work being conducted at NDARC in the space of mental health and substance use predictors, prevention and treatment.
On the second day of the workshop, UNSW researchers were invited to tour the impressive clinical and research facilities at the Shanghai Mental Health Center (SMHC), hosted by Vice-President and Professor of Psychiatry, Min Zhao. SMHC is a WHO Collaborating Center and operates both as a mental health clinic and a major teaching and research institute, with 1300 staff.
NDARC researchers gave presentations on their work and engaged in productive discussions regarding future research collaborations, including smoking cessation treatment and implementation, studies on ketamine and depression, and work on amphetamines.
Photo 1: The UNSW contingent of the UNSW-CAS Neuroscience Workshop.
Front row (L-R): Associate Professor Wei Wen (Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing [CHeBA]), Dr Mohit Shivdansani (Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering [GSBME]), Dr Tianruo Gao (GSBME), Ms Julie Ward (Research Strategy Office), Dr Ulises Aregueta Robles (GSBME), Ms Vanessa Dawson (Research Strategy Office).
Back row (L-R): Dr Ryan Courtney (NDARC), Dr Emily Stockings (NDARC), Dr Anne Poljak (CHeBA), Dr Karen Mather (CHeBA), Professor Laura Poole-Warren (PVC Research & Training, GSBME), Professor Gary Housley (School of Medical Sciences), and Professor Michael Farrell (NDARC Director).
Photo 2: The UNSW-CAS Neuroscience Workshop members on Day one of the workshop.
Photo 3: NDARC’s Dr Ryan Courtney discusses tobacco control strategies at the Institute of Neuroscience (ION), Shanghai, China.
Photo 4: UNSW Researchers speak at the Shanghai Mental Health Centre (SMHC).
L-R: Associate Professor Wei Wen (CHeBA); Professor Michael Farrell (NDARC Director); Dr Emily Stockings (NDARC), and Dr Ryan Courtney (NDARC).
Photo 5: UNSW researchers toured the impressive clinical and research facilities at Shanghai Mental Health Centre (SMHC) on 24 July in the Xuhui district, Shanghai.
Seated: Dr Emily Stockings (NDARC; first on left), Professor Min Zhao (Psychiatrist and Vice President, Shanghai Mental Health Centre, Medical College of Shanghai Jiao Tong University; second from left), Professor Michael Farrell (NDARC Director; third from left), Associate Professor Wei Wen (UNSW Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing [CHeBA]; second from right).
Standing: Dr Ryan Courtney (NDARC; third from left), Jujun Wang (Psychiatrist, Shanghai Mental Health Centre, Medical College of Shanghai Jiao Tong University; fourth from left).
Also pictured: students and staff of Shanghai Mental Health Centre.