I am interested in?

Led by Professor John McGrath, the Epidemiology Research Stream seeks to explore risk factors linked to psychotic disorders, with a focus on non-genetic factors that are potentially modifiable.

In recent years the team has been examining the impact of low vitamin D (the “sunshine hormone”) during early brain development and on adult brain function. In collaboration with Professor Darryl Eyles and Associate Professor Thomas Burne, they have developed animal models to examine the impact of low vitamin D during gestation on brain development. The group has established a new research program with Professor Pankaj Sah and Dr Helen Gooch to explore links between vitamin D and voltage-gated calcium channels.

In 2013, Professor McGrath was awarded a prestigious National Health and Medical Research Council John Cade Fellowship in Mental Health Research. These funds allowed the group to explore a wider range of modifiable risk factors (e.g. infectious agents, stress, cannabis, vitamin D), a more diverse range of brain-related outcomes (e.g. prenatal and neonatal brain growth, childhood neurocognition, autism, schizophrenia, other mental disorders), and a wider range of epidemiological samples (in collaboration with national and international groups). New projects include an international study related to psychotic experiences in the general community (Harvard University and 19 other universities). The group has also been extending studies related to vitamin D in international datasets by exploring gene-environment interactions.

In 2016, Professor McGrath was awarded the prestigious Niels Bohr Professorship at Aarhus University in Denmark where he coordinates joint Australian-Danish research focused on understanding the epidemiology of mental disorders and how they impact on society.

What is psychiatric epidemiology?

Psychiatric epidemiology is the science of counting health-related measures in the community. It asks questions like:

  • How many people have a particular mental disorder?
  • Do mental disorders differ between men and women?
  • When do different mental disorders emerge across the lifespan?
  • What are the risk factors for mental disorders – for example, are there risk factors that we inherit from our parents (e.g. genetic factors) or risk factors that we face during life (e.g. trauma stress, low parental vitamin D)
  • Do people with mental disorder have a normal life span, and if not, why do they have premature mortality?
  • How disabling are mental disorders, and how can we best measure this burden?


Vitamin D research
Read more
Comorbidity Related to Mental Disorders
Read more
Health Metrics in Danish Registers
Read more


For complete staff bios and contact details, visit: Epidemiology Stream Staff



Professor John McGrath
Dr Sukanta Saha
Carmen Lim

External links

Queensland Brain Institute - McGrath Group

Visit the McGrath Group page on the University of Queensland’s website.

Funded by the John Cade Fellowship, and in collaboration with Associate Professor James Scott (UQ Centre for Clinical Research), the McGrath group and staff from the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research have linked up with clinicians around south-east Queensland. The Cadence clinical trials program has commenced randomised control trials of new candidate treatments for those with psychosis.

Read more
Niels Bohr Professorship

Visit the Niels Bohr Professorship website.

Funded by the Danish National Research Foundation, research focusses on psychiatric epidemiology and aims to promote innovation. The Niels Bohr Professorship is based at AARHUS University, Denmark and in partnership with The University of Queensland and Harvard University.

Read more
The National Centre for Register-based Research

Visit the National Centre for Register-based Research website.

AARHUS University page for the Niels Bohr Professorship.

Read more
NBS Conference YouTube Channel

Visit the NBS Conference YouTube Channel.

Read more

Contacting us

Do you want to know more about QCMHR, but can’t quite get enough information from our website? Please get in touch – we are happy to help!

Find out more

Send us a message