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BioForum – Our Mental Health Epidemic: The Need for Innovation in Treatment

August 4, 2021 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm AEST

Due to COVID restrictions, this event is now available to attend virtually only.

About the event

Despite an ever-increasing number of Australians experiencing debilitating mental illnesses, there has been little innovation in mental health treatment options over the last 5 decades.

With a new approach desperately needed, attention is now being paid to the potential role of psychedelic medicines as aides to psychotherapy for a wide array of conditions, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction. The Australian Government has recently demonstrated its support of these breakthrough therapies with a $15 million grant to kick start clinical trials.

This keynote session will discuss the science and data around psychedelic medicines and the exciting work that is currently being done in this space. We will examine the evidence for psychedelic-assisted therapy, investigate its potential applications, and learn about pre-clinical research and animal models currently being developed in Victoria. You will also learn about how the current policy and regulatory environment affects the work.

Event details

  • Date: Wednesday 4 August 2021
  • Time (AEST): 4:00pm – 5:30pm Presentations and Panel Discussion
  • Live stream: Zoom Webinar. A link to join will be shared via email prior to the event
  • Cancellation Policy: Full refund given up to 3 days prior to the event. No refunds within 3 days of the event.

This event is sponsored by the State Government of Victoria, DJPR. 

Peter Hunt AM, Chair, Mind Medicine Australia

As an investment banker Peter Hunt AM advised local and multi-national companies and governments in Australia for nearly 35 years. He co-founded and was Executive Chairman of one of Australia’s leading investment banking advisory firms, Caliburn Partnership (now called Greenhill Australia) and continued as Chairman of the Firm after its sale to Greenhill Inc in 2009. Peter was a member of the Advisory Panel of ASIC and chaired the Vincent Fairfax Family Office.

Peter is an active philanthropist involved in funding, developing and scaling social sector organisations which seek to create a better and fairer world. He is Chairman of Mind Medicine Australia which he established with his wife, Tania de Jong, in 2018. He founded Women’s Community Shelter in 2011 and remains on the Board. He was previously Chairman of So They Can, Grameen Australia and Grameen Australia Philippines. Peter is a Director of Project Rozana and an Advisory Board member of the Monash Sustainable Development Institute. Peter also acts as a pro bono adviser to Creativity Australia.

Peter was made a member of the General Division of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2010 for services to the philanthropic sector.

Prof Arthur Christopoulos, Professor of Analytical Pharmacology | Molecular Neuropsychopharmacologist | Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, Monash University

Arthur Christopoulos is Professor of Analytical Pharmacology, a molecular neuropsychopharmacologist, and Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, Monash University Parkville (#1 Faculty in Australia; #2 in the world – Pharmacy & Pharmacology; QS World Rankings, 2021). Prior to his appointment as Dean, he was a Senior Principal Research Fellow of the NHMRC. His research focuses on novel paradigms of drug action at G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), the largest drug-target class for current medicines. His innovative research crosses academic and industry boundaries, incorporating computational and mathematical modelling, structural and chemical biology, molecular and cellular pharmacology, medicinal chemistry, and preclinical models of behaviour and disease. His research has been applied to fundamental and translational studies encompassing neurological and psychiatric disorders, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and chronic pain, to name a few, and he has received substantial, long-term support from international and national competitive (e.g., NIH; NHMRC; ARC), charitable (e.g., Wellcome Trust) and commercial (e.g., Servier, GSK, Pfizer, Amgen, Eli Lilly) sources.

Professor Christopoulos has published over 320 publications, including in leading journals such as Nature, Science, Cell, Nature Chemical Biology, PNAS and Nature Communications, and delivered over 180 invited presentations. He has served on the Editorial Board of 8 international journals, consults for numerous companies, (including most major pharma and many biotech) and is a Councillor of the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (IUPHAR). He has also been the recipient of multiple awards, including the John J. Abel Award from the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, the Rand Medal from the Australian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists, the British Pharmacological Society (BPS) Gaddum Memorial Award, the IUPHAR Analytical Pharmacology Lecturer, the GSK Award for Research Excellence and a Doctor of Laws from the University of Athens. Since 2014-present, Clarivate Analytics have named him a Highly Cited Researcher (top 1% worldwide) in Pharmacology and Toxicology. In 2017, he was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences and of the BPS, and this year (2021) was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science for his seminal contributions to novel drug discovery.

Dr Paul MacLeman, Corporate Advisor, Mind Medicine Australia | Executive Chairman, Island Pharmaceuticals Ltd | Chairman AdAlta Ltd | Director, Upkara Inc. | Director, Upkara Asia Pacific Pty Ltd | Chairman, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Industry Review Committee for DESE

Paul has over 25 years’ experience across all phases of the life sciences sector. With a career-spanning veterinary practice, pharmaceutical development and manufacturing, biotechnology, diagnostics and finance, Paul has expertise in capital raising, business development, technology commercialisation, and sales and marketing globally.

He has founded life sciences start-ups in the biologics area and worked in investment banking focusing on the analysis and financing of technology companies. Paul has previously served as Chairman and/or CEO of several VC funded, ASX, NASDAQ, CSE and TSX listed companies. Paul is also current Executive Chairman of Island Pharmaceuticals Ltd (ASX.ILA) and is a Chairman of AdAlta Ltd (ASX.1AD), Supertrans Medical Ltd and Non-Executive Director of Upkara Inc. and Upkara Asia Pacific Pty Limited. Paul is also Chair of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Industry Review Committee for DESE and serves on a number of other NFP and government advisory roles.

A.Prof. Jess Nithianantharajah, Head, Synapse Biology & Cognition Laboratory, The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health

Associate Professor Jess Nithianantharajah is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow and heads the Synapse Biology and Cognition laboratory. She completed her doctorate at the University of Melbourne then trained at the Howard Florey Institute, before being recruited to the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge UK. During this time, she held a joint appointment at the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge UK where she began working on ‘iPads’ for mice and rats – an innovative behavioural tool that has advanced how we model complex mental processes in animals. She then relocated to the University of Edinburgh before returning to Melbourne to the Florey Institute as an Independent group leader.

Dr Nithianantharajah’s research interests lie in understanding how the wiring in our brains is critical for regulating complex mental processes, and how this becomes disrupted in mental disorders. Her research has been the first to showcase the translational capacity of touchscreen-based tests in assessing cognition in humans and mice, providing a novel approach for how to bridge the divide from bench to bedside. Her research laboratory is the largest site in Australia driving the use of this innovative technology, leading the development of novel tests and approaches to measure complex mental processes in preclinical models. She works closely with clinical and drug discovery partners with a goal to advance how we develop targeted therapies to deliver precision medicine for mental and cognitive disorders.

Tania de Jong AM, Deputy Chair and Executive Director, Mind Medicine Australia – brief overview of mental health & facilitate panel

Tania de Jong AM is a trail-blazing Australian soprano, award-winning social entrepreneur, creative innovation catalyst, spiritual journey woman, storyteller and global speaker. Tania is one of Australia’s most successful female entrepreneurs and innovators developing 5 businesses and 3 charities including Creative Universe, Creativity Australia and With One Voice, Creative Innovation Global, Mind Medicine Australia, Dimension5, MTA Entertainment & Events, Pot-Pourri and The Song Room.

She works across the public, private, creative and community sectors and is passionate about mental health, innovation, diversity and inclusion. Tania speaks and sings around the world as a soloist and with her group Pot-Pourri releasing twelve albums. She is Founder and Executive Producer of future-shaping events series, Creative Innovation Global.

She was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in June 2008. Tania was named in the 100 Women of Influence, the 100 Australian Most Influential Entrepreneurs and named as one of the 100 most influential people in psychedelics globally in 2021. Tania’s TED Talk ‘How Singing Together Changes The Brain’ has sparked international interest. Tania’s mission is to change the world, one voice at a time!


August 4, 2021
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
$20 - $40
Event Category:


BioMelbourne Network
+61 3 9667 8181


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