Welcome to the LIFEMend Clinical Trial Network
LIFEMend is a clinical trial network composed of 13 academics across seven institutions. We are dedicated to the investigation of lifestyle and nutraceutical therapies as treatments for neuropsychiatric illness. The LIFEMend network is an Associate Member of the Australian Clinical Trials Alliance (ACTA).
The LIFEMend network was established in 2018 with the purpose of creating strong collaborative networks, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of clinical trials, economising on costs, improving capacity, and producing high-quality and innovative medical research. Our members consist of clinicians, epidemiologists, clinical trial specialists, experts in GCP governance, statisticians, and psycho-pharmacologists.
Who we are
The LIFEMend Network is a collaborative multidisciplinary group of researchers who work across universities to enhance research synergy and quality. We are committed to the production of high-quality, patient-centered clinical research which has the capacity to improve the lives of those living with neuropsychiatric illness. Our research has a ‘bench to bedside’ focus. As such, all of the data produced in our trials, including genetics and other biological data, is ultimately integrated into the translational impact of the final results. Our focus on translational impact is key to producing relevant research that directly improves patient outcomes.
The LIFEMend network is open to consideration of funding to conduct clinical trials from government, industry, and philanthropic sources. If you would like to enquire about funding opportunities, or if you have other queries about the network, kindly reach us via the contact form at the bottom of this page.
Focus and Research Interest
Our primary research interest is in the development and testing of novel treatment approaches using lifestyle interventions and nutraceuticals.
Lifestyle Medicine is the utilisation of lifestyle changes to improve human health, and can relate to nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, nature-based stress reduction practices, amongst others considerations such as sleep, work-life balance, and interface with technology. Nutraceuticals are standardised pharmaceutical-grade nutrient and plant medicines which possess potentially beneficial pharmacological actions.
Lifestyle and nutraceutical treatments may be used alone as ‘monotherapy’, or otherwise can be used alongside traditional pharmacotherapy ‘adjunctively’ to boost efficacy or improve tolerability. The typically favourable tolerability of these types of interventions can also make them a suitable treatment option in instances where traditional pharmacotherapy may not be appropriate.
Our network members have undertaken clinical investigations of lifestyle and nutraceutical therapies in conditions such as Major Depressive Disorder, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, Schizophrenia (and related conditions), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Insomnia, addiction and compulsive behaviours (such as excessive gambling, eating, internet use), Dementia (including Alzheimer’s), and Cognitive Decline.
We are also interested in deciphering the underlying causes and mechanisms of neuropsychiatric illness, and how this relates to treatment efficacy. As such, our network routinely utilises biological data in our trials, in order to investigate factors such as genetics, gene-expression, diet and nutrition, and blood biomarkers of treatment response.
The network has substantial clinical trial expertise. Cumulatively, our members have performed more than 100 clinical trials. We are an Associate Member of the Australian Clinical Trials Alliance (ACTA).
Research & Impact
We have the capacity to perform preliminary phase-IIb studies through to large scale, multi-site phase-III trials researching safety and efficacy.
Our network is interconnected across seven institutions throughout Australia, and is composed of researchers and clinicians with access to large networks of patients across many clinical populations. Due to this, our team has a strong recruitment base across the network from which to draw study participants.
Furthermore, our network has high-level experience in GCP governance of multi-centre RCTs, many of which are NHMRC-funded.
Our network has published clinical trials and meta-analyses in several top journals. Some key publications include:
• Maintenance N-acetyl cysteine treatment for bipolar disorder BMC Psychiatry
• Dietary improvement for major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial) BMC Medicine
• Kava for Generalised Anxiety Disorder Aust NZ Journal Psychiatry
• Adjunctive Nutraceuticals for Depression - Meta-analysis American Journal of Psychiatry
• Acute and Chronic Effects of Cannabinoids on Human Cognition—A Systematic Review Biological Psychiatry
• Annual high-dose vitamin D3 and mental well-being: randomised controlled trial The British Journal of Psychiatry
• Nutritional psychiatry: the present state of the evidence Proceedings of the Nutrition Society
Our network of 11 researchers have an extensive array of skills in the development and management of clinical trials, as well as the creation of novel therapies.
Our network features mental and cognitive health experts, with a strong track record in both Lifestyle Medicine and the psychopharmacology of natural products (including their product development).
Our network also has the skills to perform HPLC for quality testing and validation, pharmacokinetic analyses for drug clearance and metabolism, real time qPCR for quantitative gene expression, genetic testing for genotyping genes of interest, assessment of diet and nutrition, and other relevant blood biomarkers.
Results and Translational Impact
A central goal of the LIFEMend network is the production of high impact translational research. Some examples of our research with significant translational impact include:
• A Blueprint for Protecting Physical Health in People with Mental Illness - commision from the Lancet Psychiatry
• Empowering Households and Individuals to Co-produce Positive Health Outcomes World Bank
• Moving towards a population health approach to the primary prevention of common mental disorders BMC Medicine
• Staging in bipolar disorder: from theoretical framework to clinical utility World Psychiatry
• A transdiagnostic dimensional approach towards a neuropsychological assessment for addiction: an international Delphi consensus study Addiction
Jerome Sarris, PhD, MHSc
NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University; Melbourne University, Department of Psychiatry
Jerome Sarris is Professor of Integrative Mental Health at NICM Health Research Institute and an NHMRC Clinical Research Fellow. His research focus is in the use of nutraceutical and lifestyle medicine in the treatment of mood & anxiety disorders.
Michael Berk, MD, PhD
Deakin University, IMPACT Strategic Research Centre, School of Medicine, Barwon Health
Professor Michael Berk is the Alfred Deakin Chair of Psychiatry at Deakin University and Barwon Health, and an NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow. He is a highly cited researcher who has performed many high impact trials, particularly in mood disorders.
Murat Yucel, PhD
BrainPark, Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health, Monash University
Professor Murat Yücel is a Clinical Neuropsychologist and NHMRC Principal Research Fellow at Monash University. He is founding director of BrainPark and leads the Addiction and Mental Health Program at the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health
Felice Jacka, PhD
Deakin University, Food & Mood Centre, Institute for Mental and Physical Health and Clinical Translation (IMPACT), Barwon Health
Professor Jacka is an NHMRC Career Development Fellow at Deakin University, Director of the Food and Mood Centre and is founder and president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research (ISNPR). Her research focuses on the links between diet, gut, mental and brain health, with the goal of of developing new, evidence-based prevention and treatment strategies for mental disorders
Chee H Ng, MD, PhD
Professorial Unit, The Melbourne Clinic, Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne; International Unit & WHO Collaborating Centre in Mental Health, St Vincent’s Mental Health
Chee Ng is Healthscope Chair of Psychiatry & Director of the Professorial Unit at The Melbourne Clinic. He also serves as Director of International Unit and WHO Collaborating Centre in Mental Health at St Vincent’s Mental Health. His research focuses on pharmacogenetics, psychopharmacology of depression and bipolar disorder, transcultural psychiatry, and global mental health.
Genevieve Steiner, PhD
NICM Health Research Institute & Translational Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University
A/Prof Genevieve Steiner is an NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Development Fellow and Director of Research at the NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University. Her cognitive neuroscience research spans the early detection, prevention, and treatment of cognitive problems in older people with the aim of reducing dementia risk and improving quality of life.
Rebecca Segrave, PhD
School of Psychological Sciences and Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health, Monash University
Dr Segrave is a Clinical Neuropsychologist and the David Winston Turner Senior Research Fellow at the Monash University Brain and Mental Health Laboratory. Her interests are in the neuropsychological investigation of the origins of mental illness, and the development of novel non-medication treatments.
Wolfgang Marx, PhD
School of Allied Health, Deakin University; Food and Mood Centre, IMPACT Strategic Research Centre, School of Medicine, Barwon Health
Dr Wolfgang Marx is a postdoctoral research fellow and is Head of Nutraceutical Research at the Food & Mood Centre. His current research program focuses on the use of nutraceuticals for mental health, fatigue, and cognition. He is particularly interested in the therapeutic potential of polyphenols in mental health.
David Castle, MD, PhD
Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne; St Vincent’s Hospital
Professor Castle is Chair of Psychiatry at St Vincent’s Health, and is Professor of Psychiatry at The University of Melbourne. His research interests include schizophrenia and related disorders, bipolar disorder, OCD spectrum disorders. the physical health of the mentally ill and the mental health of the physically ill.
Susan Rossell, PhD
Centre for Mental Health, Swinburne University; Department of Psychiatry, St Vincent’s hospital
Professor Rossell is a cognitive neuropsychologist and Professorial Research Fellow at Swinburne’s Centre for Mental Health. She is currently a Senior NHMRC Research Fellow. She also holds an adjunct position at St Vincent’s Health. Her research focuses on understanding the cognitive and neurobiological processes involved in psychosis and related disorders
Gerard Byrne, MD, PhD
Discipline of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Queensland
Gerard Byrne is Professor and Head of the Discipline of Psychiatry within the School of Medicine at the University of Queensland and Director of Geriatric Psychiatry at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s
Hospital. His primary research interests include Alzheimer’s disease, personality, anxiety and depression in older people
Dan Siskind, MBBS, MPH, PhD, FRANZCP
University of Queensland School of Clinical Medicine; Metro South Addiction and Mental Health Service, Brisbane
A/Prof Siskind is a clinical academic psychiatrist with clinical and research interests in working with people with treatment refractory schizophrenia. His research aims to develop innovative lifestyle and pharmacological interventions for cardiometabolic comorbidities.
Olivia Dean, PhD
Faculty of Medicine, School of Health, Deakin University
A/Prof. Olivia Dean is Director of IMPACT TRIALS with the Institute for Mental and Physical health And Clinical Translation (IMPACT) and an R.D. Wright NHMRC Biomedical Career Development Fellow at Deakin University. She holds honorary appointments with the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, and Barwon Health. Her research focus is in the investigation of novel therapies and understanding the biology and treatment response of people with affective disorders.