Main & Virtual Brainstorm

2023 Forum | 12 - 13 May 2023

Virtual Brainstorm


The sessions for the World in a Brainstorm forum are available until October 31st, 2023 only.  

To watch recordings, click the links below next to each session.

Friday 12th of May - Morning



Welcome to Country

Simon Forrest is a Wadjuk Ballardong Nyoongar with kin ties to Badimia and Wongutha peoples and is also an academic recognised for his contributions to Aboriginal Education, History and Politics and Cultural Awareness.

We thank Simon for welcoming us to meet on Wadjuk Country and acknowledge the value of the Wadjuk people’s continuing connection to their land for the wider community

Welcome from Meeting for Minds

Susie Hincks grew up on a farm in the South-West of Western Australia and met Maria when they were in their early twenties. Maria moved back to Europe and Susie slowly succumbed to mental illness. At the age of 28, she was finally diagnosed with schizophrenia. Fortunately, Susie responded well to a small amount of medication and moved on to become a mental health advocate. This involves speaking at schools and universities about her experience with mental illness in order to educate and inform people. She is currently the Consumer Representative for the Neuropsychiatric Epidemiology Research Unit at the University of Western Australia.

Celia Hammond was welcomed as the Patron of Meeting for Minds in 2021. She is a practicing lawyer, with extensive experience as a legal academic, university executive and politician. Celia is also a mental health advocate, being a person of lived experience, and has spoken out in Parliament in support of de-stigmatising anorexia and other mental illness.

Program Introduction

MC for World in a Brainstorm, Geraldine Mellet, is currently the Co- CEO of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH), a former broadcast journalist and an advocate with a commitment to challenging stereotypes and stigmas faced by those with lived experience. In her previous role as Coordinator of ‘The Lives we Lead’ social media project, she made over 25 short videos showcasing the contributions of Australians with disability to work and community – in their own words. She will bring her media expertise and industry knowledge to help explore the diverse knowledge, experience and insights from the Forum’s programs.


The Meeting For Minds Approach

Keith is a former Western Australian Minister of Health and former chair of the Mental Health Council of Australia. He has been involved in ongoing mental health advocacy through membership of non-government agencies and was awarded the Centenary Medal (2001) for service to people with a mental illness and their carers. He is also a Member of the Order of Australia (2009) and is a director of Meeting for Minds. Keith is a powerful voice promoting the cause of mental health in Australia and globally.

The Meeting for Minds = SYNERGIES program is a unique approach that facilitates the engagement of PLEX (People with Lived EXperience of mental illness) and researchers of brain and behavioural science to share their curiosity around the project research. The global program provides a space where ideas, experiences and revelations fuel new perspectives and insights, building an ‘alliance of hope’. Chris will share the evolution of the program and highlights of how this program is making a difference for both researchers and PLEX.

Other Approaches

Consumer and community involvement (CCI), carried out with those with lived experience is a growing in health and medical research is an important and growing element of health and medical research. The CCIProgram of the Western Australian Health Translation Network is a leader in the CCI agenda globally. This presentation will highlight successes in the research sector and prompt questions on next steps to validate and heighten the significance of CCI to research priorities, outcomes and translation, and where CCI is yet to tread.

The ALIVE National Centre for Mental Health Research Translation, funded by NHMRC, aims to transform mental health and wellbeing through primary care and community action, with a focus on lived-experience models. The Centre operates on a community-led definition of lived-experience and supports capacity-building, co-design, and translation networks.

The McPin Foundation’s mission is to improve everyone’s mental health through research, informed and directed by expertise generated through lived experience. We want the value of lived experience of mental health issues to be upheld and embraced, which is why we put it at the heart of all our work.




Music and the Brain

Why have humans evolved two communication channels – language and music? Alan will focus on the power of music to promote trust, altruism and cooperative behaviour, and summarise the neurological basis for its capacity to influence and potentially enhance mental health.

Drum therapy

Experience the power of drum therapy in this live session with Gina Newport, an experienced youth worker, and educator passionate about community connection and the power of music. Using drum therapy, she works with groups to create a dialogue around social and emotional concerns, empowering participants to beat to their own drum and realise they are not alone.

Stimulating the brain to treat depression

Neuromodulation through repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) is a promising alternative to traditional treatments for depression. Jenny presents how cell and animal models as well as clinical trials in healthy volunteers and patients have been used to understand how brain plasticity can be harnessed to treat depression. The vision is to facilitate the development of safe and effective brain-based treatments for depression that are tailored to the individual.


Friday 12th of May - Afternoon




The Impact of Sports Concussion 

Concussion is extremely common, affecting one in five people in their lifetime. Most people will recover from the initial symptoms of concussion, but some will have symptoms that persist for months or years after injury. Neuroscientist Dr Sarah Hellewell and PLEX Thomas Bergin will discuss the biology underpinning symptoms of concussion, the impact of concussion on work, school and social life, and life after concussion.

MDMA Research Down Under: What does a decade of persistence look like?

In the past decade, there has been significant growth in clinical trials of MDMA. Most of this research has been funded by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). This presentation describes the obstacles that PRISM Ltd. has overcome, and the support we have received from MAPS and others. In doing so, we hope to create a smoother pathway to MDMA clinical trials for other Australian researchers.

Investing in Psychedelics in search of better treatments

Geraldine Mellet will interview Christian providing insights into the world’s largest investor in psychedelics, currently leading the psychedelics renaissance to help end the global mental health crisis.




How female and male brains react under mental insults

Hermona will present the discovery of the regulatory role of cholinergic signalling and the ‘changing of the guards’ concept, highlighting differences in these regulators between men and women’s brains. She presents her latest research on how stress impacts female and male brains and how this could translate to better diagnoses and therapeutic tools.

Inherited Trauma – Epigenetics in Action

Isabelle will present the importance of epigenetic marks in the brain and their contribution to behavior and cognitive functions in adults. The focus will be on epigenetic mechanisms related to childhood trauma and their study in a laboratory mouse model as well as implicating germ cells in epigenetic transmission, and the possibility of correcting trauma-induced epigenetic alterations.

Indigenous Mental Health

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a higher suicide rate, with suicide being the leading cause of death for those aged 15 to 34, highlighting a mental health crisis. Pat will present on works to identify best practice programs and research for Indigenous suicide prevention through an Indigenous ‘lens’. Prioritising culture in mental health programs and services is essential, with a focus on the holistic concept of social and emotional wellbeing.




CAFÉ SCIENTIFIQUE: Origins and Consequence of Mental Fatigue

Meeting for Minds, in partnership with the Institute for Brain Research (ICM), Paris, France, presents a conversation with Director of Research, Mathias Pessiglione.

Recording of live discussion on 9 May 2023



MASTER CLASS: Presenting your Research – Techniques to Enhance Your Style

Are you a science researcher looking to perfect your presentation skills and enhance your self-confidence when presenting your research?

Luzita brings her mastery of vocal technique, inspiring confident presentation skills, and unlocking one’s potential when performing in front of an audience. She’s passionate about boosting your stage presence, helping you to stretch your limits and present your research with confidence.

Available to postgraduate students and early career researchers on site at DADAA, Fremantle. Limited places – email to register

The sessions for the World in a Brainstorm forum are available until October 31st, 2023 only.  

To watch recordings, click the links below next to each session.

Saturday 13th of May - Morning





Childhood trajectories to youth-onset and adult mental disorders

Longitudinal studies tell us that about 50% of teenagers with mental health difficulties will have had substantial problems in childhood. Drawing on research on childhood cognitive and emotional development and the underlying science of brain development, Ian discusses the importance of the best possible early start to life, early identification of relevant developmental trajectories and the need to have a strong and consistent approach to early intervention for emerging difficulties.

Providing the Right Care, First Time, Where You Live

Ian presents the Brain and Mind Centre Youth Model of Care that puts a young person and their family at the centre of care and empowers them to challenge health providers to deliver the best possible options early in the course of illness. This includes the promotion of highly-personalised and multidimensional assessment at first point of contact with health care, and the use of ‘measurement-based care’ via smart technology-based assessment and tracking systems that track whether interventions provided actually result in improved short and long-term outcomes.



Co-managing Young People and Families Immunotherapy for Atypical Disorders

Elizabeth is an expert in youth mental health and has extensive experience in developing and evaluating comprehensive assessment and management programs. Her presentation on immunotherapy focuses on co-managing with young people and families for atypical major mood or psychotic disorders using non-specific immunosuppressive or targeted immune therapies. The journey to obtain a certain diagnosis is complex, relying on close cooperation between the treating team, the patient, and their family. Despite the challenges, this approach has led to positive outcomes for young people with life-threatening situations.

GLAD Study – PharmacoGenetics Linked to Antidepressants

The GLAD Project (PharmacoGenetics Linked to AntiDepressants) is an example of where cross-pollination from one research discipline, as well as PLEX, has inspired research that improves treatments for mental illness.  The collaboration between Anthony, a pharmacogeneticist and expert in neurodegenerative diseases, and Prof Sean Hood, a renowned psychiatrist with a passion for brain research has led to national and international clinical trials. 

Anthony will discuss the transfer of his research into the discipline of psychiatry as well as his latest project on Pharmacogenetics and Personalised Medicine for Better Outcomes. By analysing individuals’ genes, which are involved in metabolising antidepressants and other drugs used in psychiatry, they can then investigate which medications are most likely to be effective, with the least side effects. Thereby, Increasing the chances of administering the right drug to the right person as quickly as possible.

Sean will present on how the process of flipped research influenced the GLAD Project and how the expertise of PLEX Research Partners has evolved. Turning the research approach from being generated by researchers and academics to being generated by PLEX questions and having more involvement throughout research projects and how this leads to better outcomes.



Learning Under Emotional Pressure

Rony is a computer engineer turned cognitive neuroscientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science. He investigates the neuronal circuitry behind the interplay between emotion and cognition, with a focus on the amygdala and prefrontal cortex. His lab develops models for neuropsychiatric disorders like anxiety and PTSD. In his presentation, he will discuss his recent work on neural mechanisms of learning under emotional situations and the implications of positive versus negative outcomes.


Saturday 13th of May - Afternoon



How can brain and behavioural science research impact the life of the community for good?

Moderated by Geraldine Mellet, the Community Panel will explore how community agencies can be assisted to provide better services through brain and behavioural science research.

Former lawyer and politician and now award-winning playwright was the first Australian parliamentarian to admit to having a mental illness, opening the doors to building public awareness. Neil brings his PLEX perspective as well as an insight into the importance of the creative arts in seeking future opportunities for community impact.

Geoff was the Western Australian Premier when he stepped down acknowledging his struggle with mental illness. He brings his experience as a PLEX and more current role as an academic and advisor in public policy and governance to the discussion on future opportunities for community impact.

Emily brings deep expertise in strategic philanthropy, social innovation and international development. As Social Impact Manager for the Future Generation companies, Australia’s first listed investment companies to deliver both investment and social returns, she will provide valuable insights on private sector engagement in opportunities for community impact.

Ian joins the Community Panel to provide brain and mental health research insights to the exploration of how community agencies can be assisted to provide better services through brain and behavioural science research.

Clinical, research and consultant psychiatrist Mohan brings a medical perspective to the panel discussion. His work with the World Health Organisation and non-government organisations abroad, as well as in the Australian medical system, will give broad insights into future opportunities for community impact.

As Commander of Operation Support, Darren brings insights into the complexities that mental illness brings to the first line of response in law enforcement. His responsibilities for State Custody & Mental Health, Family & Domestic Violence and Aboriginal Affairs amongst others will present provide a wide-ranging canvas for future opportunities for community impact.




Telling humanity’s brain story

Neuroscientist and policy strategist leading the Brain Capital Alliance, Harris explores how societal brain capital is declining and how brain health and skills are critical to the modern economy, providing a unified framework to enhance and track these elements for global betterment.



Funding our Future Research

In this monetised world, how can we not talk about research funding. Michaela, known for her groundbreaking work on T-cell immunology, drug allergies, and vaccine development directly improving patient outcomes, has been awarded multiple grants will share her experiences, challenges and wins in gaining funding to bring her work to fruition.

Learnings and Opportunities for Future Research 





Cocktails with Norman Sartorius

A long-time supporter of Meeting for Minds, Norman has said that, “The stigma attached to mental illness is the greatest obstacle to the improvement of the lives of people with mental illness”.

Norman is a highly influential German-Croatian psychiatrist, former Director of Mental Health at the World Health Organisation, and President of the World and European Psychiatric Associations. His work focuses on the epidemiology of mental disorders, especially those experienced by individuals with schizophrenia and depression, and combats stigma against those with lived experience. He has published over 400 scientific papers and has been cited over 35,000 times.

Join Norman for an interactive Q&A drawing on his views of the current status of psychiatry and mental health care-achievements and failures so far.

Virtual participants don’t miss-out. You can interact live using the SLIDO app.



Café Scientifique (French)

Origins and Consequence of Mental Fatigue

Meeting for Minds, in partnership with the Institute for Brain Research (ICM), Paris, presents a conversation with Director of Research, Mr Mathias Pessiglione.

Recording of live discussion on 9 May 2023.


Feature Film Screening: PIECES

You’re invited to a private screening of PIECES by Western Australian director Martin Wilson. The film was nominated PIECES is an authentic, heartfelt drama about the healing power of care, compassion, and love. The film aims to demystify mental illness, to start a conversation that debunks the misconceptions and negative stereotypes that complicate and amplify the stigma, discrimination, and isolation experienced by people afflicted with a mental health illness.