Profile image for Luke Downey

Dr Luke Downey

Associate Professor


Associate Professor Luke Downey is an NHMRC R.D. Wright Biomedical Career Development Fellow. He leads the Drugs and Driving Research Unit at Swinburne, managing a team of research assistants, PhD students and postdoctoral fellows.

Alongside his research in human psychopharmacology, Dr Downey also examines how individual differences in emotional intelligence contribute to human behaviour. This program of research initially focused on developing reliable and valid measures to assess emotional intelligence in adults and adolescents. These measures can now be used to examine the role of emotional intelligence in predicting outcomes such as scholastic achievement, bullying, stress coping strategies, and recruitment consultant revenue.

In 2015, Dr Downey held a visiting scholar position at Harvard Medical School. He has also completed two years of postdoctoral work at Swansea University with Professor Andy Parrott.

Research interests

Neuroscience; Psychopharmacology; Epidemiology; Neuroscience; Psychopharmacology

PhD candidate and honours supervision

Higher degrees by research

Accredited to supervise Masters & Doctoral students as Principal Supervisor.

PhD topics and outlines

Driving under the influence of psychoactive prescription benzodiazepines and alcohol: Every year in Australia over 5 million prescriptions for benzodiazepines are issued, with temazepam, alprazolam and diazepam being among the most common. The goal of this project is to explore the individual and combined effects of these three common benzodiazepines, at therapeutic doses, with alcohol on driving performance.

The effect of combining alcohol with wake promoting stimulants upon driving and ocular monitoring systems: Use of Ritalin, Modafinil and Dexedrine has been linked to impulsive behaviour, disorientation and lack of co-ordination; and these effects are considerably amplified when combined with alcohol. The goal of this project is to explore the individual and combined effects of these stimulants, at therapeutic doses, with alcohol on driving performance.


Available to supervise honours students.

Honours topics and outlines

An open label pilot study of lorcaserin in the management of substance use disorder: The aim of this project is to develop initial human data on effects of a new compound on safety and efficacy for people seeking treatment for alcohol and methamphetamine use disorder subjects undergoing residential detoxification. The compound to be studied will be the 5-HT2CR agonist lorcaserin.

Assessing fitness for returning to driving: The aim of this project is to assess the utility of the Schuhfried Traffic Safety battery on re-licensed drivers, who have lost their license for drink/drug driving.See:

Fields of Research

  • Psychology Not Elsewhere Classified - 170199
  • Biological Psychology (neuropsychology, Psychopharmacology, Physiological Psychology) - 170101
  • Developmental Psychology And Ageing - 170102


Also published as: Downey, Luke; Downey, L.; Downey, L. A.; Downey, Luke A.
This publication listing is provided by Swinburne Research Bank. If you are the owner of this profile, you can update your publications using our online form.

Recent research grants awarded

  • 2018: Examine the effect of acute and chronic supplementation of Blackmores Micronutrient Formulation versus placebo on memory and mood *; Blackmores
  • 2018: Investigating the safety and efficacy of chronic administration of Cera-Q on memory and cognitive function in healthy adults *; Bio and Gene Fund Scheme
  • 2017: Driving under the influence of psychoactive prescription benzodiazepines and alcohol *; NHMRC Career Development Fellowship
  • 2016: To examine the effect upon stress, mood, anxiety and cognitive performance of consuming a daily dose of Ionix Supreme *; Isagenix Worldwide LLC
  • 2015: The effect of two concentrations of hempseed oil on oral drug detection systems and driving performance *; Department of Human Services - Contracts
  • 2014: Biological and psychological health indices of Ecstasy/polydrug users: testing the Bioenergetic Stress Model. *; Emerging Research Priorities Scheme
  • 2014: The relationship between accident culpability and drug presence in blood samples taken from person injured in motor vehicle collisions *; NHMRC Project Grants
  • 2014: Visiting Researcher Scheme 2014 - Prof Andy Parrott *; Visiting Researcher Scheme
  • 2013: Investigating Emotional Intelligence at Anglican Church Grammar School *; Anglican Church Grammar School
  • 2011: Amphetamines and Violence in Police Custody Project *; Victoria Police (for Grants)

* Chief Investigator

Recent media

There are no media items to display