Professor Brian Dean
I am a biochemist with a long-term commitment to understanding the causes of the psychiatric disorders schizophrenia, major depressive disorders and bipolar disorder. I completed under my undergraduate studies at the University of Sunderland and London Southbank University where I obtained degrees focussed on pharmacology and biochemistry, respectively. My postgraduate studies were carried out at the University of Melbourne where I obtained a PhD after studying abnormalities in dopamine uptake by platelets from subjects with schizophrenia. My postdoctoral career has been a continual pursuit of understanding the molecular changes in the human brain that cause psychiatric disorders and the molecular mechanism of action of psychotropic drugs. My research is now recognised worldwide and has been strongly cited by others in my field. My research has been recognised with my admission as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, a Fellow of the CINP and a member of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. My international reputation has result in me acting as the Treasurer of the CINP, the world neuropsychopharmacology society and I am on the Board of the Asian College of Schizophrenia Research. I was the foundation President of the Biological Psychiatry Australia which brings together researcher into the biological causes of psychiatric disorders on an annual basis. I currently hold the positions of Professorial Fellow, the Centre for Mental Health, Swinburne University, Head of the Division of Biological Psychiatry and Mental Health and Head of the Molecular Psychiatry Laboratory at the Florey and I am Deputy Director of the Victorian Brain Bank Network.
My current research primarily focusses using postmortem tissue from subjects with psychiatric disorders to understand how changes in cortical gene expression can bring about the symptoms of psychiatric disorders. I have lead a program to collect postmortem CNS tissue from subjects with psychiatric disorders for over 20 years and this has led to the creation of the largest psychiatric brain bank in the southern hemisphere. My data from studying the human brain suggests interactions between genes involved in neurodevelopment and neuroinflammation have a key causative role for disorders such as schizophrenia, major depressive disorders and bipolar disorder. Through collaborations with the strong neuroimaging group at the Centre for Mental Health at Swinburne University I am also seeking an understanding as how genetics, epigenetics and gene expression may affect both CNS structure and activity. Such interactions are likely to be a key player in how brain function changes to bring about the symptoms of psychiatric disorders. I am also collaborating with researchers at the Centre for Mental Health at Swinburne University and the Department of Psychiatry and PET centre at the Austin Hospital to begin to separate a sub-group of subjects within the syndrome of schizophrenia that can be characterised by a marked loss of cortical muscarinic M1 receptors and differential blood gene expression profiles. This is important as once this sub-group can be separated we can begin to consider whether a more personalised medicine could be developed to manage this form of the disorder. This approach is timely as new drugs that target muscarinic receptors are been advocated as a new treatment for schizophrenia and it will be vital to know if people with the disorder who have low levels of cortical muscarinic receptors will be resistant to such treatments.
Growing from my current research my future goals are to:
- To develop blood tests to aid in the clinical management of subjects with psychiatric disorders at the level of diagnostics, theranostics and clinical course.
- To gain an increased understanding of the causes of psychiatric disorders as a first step in identifying new drug targets that can be used to control the symptoms of people with psychiatric disorders.
- Combining genetics, epigenetics, gene expression and neuroimaging to better understand how genes and the environment can affect brain function to cause the changes in function that brings about the symptoms of psychiatric disorders.
PhD candidate and honours supervision
Higher degrees by research
Accredited to supervise Masters & Doctoral students as Co-Supervisor.
Fields of Research
- Cell Neurochemistry - 310104
Also published as: Dean, Brian; Dean, B.
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Recent research grants awarded
- 2021: Developing a blood test to aid in the diagnosis of major depressive disorder (MDD) *; Barbara Dicker Brain Science grant
- 2020: The gut microbiome and depression in anorexia nervosa *; Barbara Dicker Brain Science grant
* Chief Investigator
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