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  • Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from Scopus
1993 …2022

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Personal profile

Research Interests

Project 1. Precision medicine for mental health

Approximately half of every population have natural gene variations that affect many of the medicines we use. Identifying the genetic variations for an individual can guide the dose or type of medicines prescribed. Matching of pharmaceuticals to particular genotypes is known as pharmacogenomics. It is estimated ~50% of patients do not respond to the first antidepressant they are prescribed. Access to accurate genetic testing, interpretation and translation into precision medicine is required to increase successful treatment responses.

A number of genetic analysis platforms are used to identify gene variations including microarrays, high resolution melt analysis, sanger-, second- and third- generation sequencing. The suitability of each analysis platform is dependent on the gene(s) of interest. Our laboratory is interested in long-read third generation sequencing technologies to better detect variations in genes with high homology to other genes. Variants are read from the sequence data, converted into allele types, genotypes and functional phenotypes.

The aim is improved genotyping for precision medicine in mental health services. This project offers individuals genetic testing to recommend precision medicine to guide clinical pharmacologists and prescribing physicians. Personalised prescriptions are particularly important for antidepressants and antipsychotics to decrease the length of time to optimise treatments. Our research team includes a neuroscientist and geneticist, psychiatric clinician, clinical pharmacologist and psychiatrists.
Contact Dr Lewis for details of this PhD project.

Project 2. Epigenetics and Major Depression

Chronic psychological stress often manifests itself as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Sustained stress can alter corticotrophin releasing hormone, adrenocorticotropic hormone and cortisol. The homeostasis of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis can become dysregulated by a number of maladaptive changes when this neuroendocrine system is kept under pressure.

Stressors in our environment have an impact on gene expression through epigenetic modifications to our chromosomes. One type of epigenetic change is the modification of histone proteins that pack our DNA into chromosomes. A regulator of gene expression PHF21B is associated with major depression. PHF21B belongs to a class of proteins that read epigenetic modifications on histones and respond by facilitating specific changes to gene expression. Our aim is to understand what cell signals regulate PHF21B and determine the set of genes expression changes mediated by this epigenetic reader.

Research Biography

2018 - Current   Head, Neuropsychiatric Laboratory, Lifelong Health, SAHMR

2014 - 2017       Senior Research Fellow, Mind & Brain Theme, SAHMRI

2009 - 2013      Chief Scientist, The Stroke Research Programme,
                          University of Adelaide / Queen Elizabeth Hospital

2005 - 2008      Research Fellow, The Centre for the Molecular Genetics of
                         Development, University of Adelaide

2000 - 2004      Postdoctoral researcher, School of Pharmacy,
                         University of South Australia


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