Theme Leader wins international fellowship in Denmark

19 December 2016

BDHP Mental Health Theme Leader Professor John McGrath (pictured) has won a prestigious international fellowship in the Niels Bohr Professorship Program in Denmark to continue his ground-breaking research into schizophrenia. The Niels Bohr Professorship Program attracts applicants from across the globe in all disciplines of science and the humanities, with recipients demonstrating a high standing in the international research community. Professor McGrath’s team was the first in the world to show that low Vitamin D status in pregnant women and babies could affect brain development and increase the risk of schizophrenia later in life. This new work will include investigating the link between schizophrenia and Vitamin D levels in 80,000 newborns. Professor McGrath, a psychiatrist and researcher with the Queensland Brain Institute and Director of the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, will divide his time between Australia and Denmark while building a new program with colleagues at the Aarhus BSS – Aarhus University. Professor McGrath said that while developing better treatments of mental disorders was crucial, there was also an urgent need to discover causal risk factors for serious disorders like schizophrenia. “If we can understand the causes we can then think about prevention,” he said. He will also use the professorship to establish a Danish research program to identify environmental and genetic causes of schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

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