Hayley North and Caitlin Murphy – exploring schizophrenia

PhD student Hayley North

Hayley is also focussing on inflammation, this time related to cognition and attention: 

“My work involves measuring inflammation in the blood to determine if peripheral inflammation (i.e. not in the brain) can predict brain problems, i.e. worse cognition and less cortical thickness. After analysing blood serum results, I spend many hours taking into account hundreds of demographic and cognitive variables. So far, the results suggest that increased peripheral inflammation is related to lower performance on attention tasks and thinner cortex in three regions of the brain involved in attention. This is exciting because it means that identifying those that could benefit from anti-inflammatories could be done with a simple routine blood test.”

PhD student Caitlin Murphy

Caitlin – winner of the 2019 Australian Graduate Women Fellowship – is exploring the role of the immune system in schizophrenia:

“My project is focused on the approximately 40% of people with schizophrenia who have elevated markers of inflammation in the brain. Clinical evidence suggests these people who are inflamed suffer from more severe symptoms. Since many people do not respond to antipsychotic medication and no current treatments for schizophrenia directly target neuroinflammation, there is chance for a new line of treatment for the first time in 50 years! Identifying the mechanisms that underpin inflammation-associated schizophrenia allows us to repurpose the right anti-inflammatories as novel adjunctive treatments for those with this debilitating illness.”