Interventional Psychiatry

Led by Professor Paul Fitzgerald, research conducted by the Interventional Psychiatry group aims to develop, refine, and innovate brain stimulation techniques and other novel mental health treatments through world-first research and commercialisation. We conduct clinical trials across a range of mental health conditions, including Depression, Anxiety Disorders, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Autism Spectrum Disorders, evaluating the clinical applications of these innovative therapies, improving patient care and offering additional treatment options.

The Interventional Psychiatry group has two teams of researchers conducting investigator-initiated and commercially sponsored clinical trials, across a broad range of national and international Phase II and Phase III research. The investigator-initiated trials involve collaboration widely throughout the University and health care sectors, but remain driven by ECIMH principal investigators. The commercially sponsored trials have been conducted with ECIMH as both the lead site and a lead contributing site, offering both inpatient and outpatient treatment trial options. Inpatient care has been provided in collaboration with the Epworth Clinic mental health inpatient unit, Melbourne Pathology and Slade Pharmacy; an integrated treatment system, embedded within the wider Epworth Mental Health network. This is a unique capability placing us at the forefront of mental health research in Australia

In addition to our clinical trials, the team is also engaged in studies using advanced neuroscience techniques to try and better understand the underlying brain processes of psychiatric and neurological disorders, and the mechanisms through which brain stimulation may enhance function.

Group Head - Prof Paul Fitzgerald

Prof Paul Fitzgerald’s research has a strong translational focus. Treatments which have been developed or investigated by Professor Fitzgerald include repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS), magnetic seizure therapy (MST) and deep brain stimulation (DBS).

Find out more about Prof Paul Fitzgerald

Current Research Trials

Clinical trials

Below is the list of clinical trials including a brief description, trial type and coordinator details.

Depression

Developing alternative first-line treatment for young people with depression: a study of Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS) - tACS in Youth Depression

This study aims to test the effectiveness of Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS), a gentle non‐invasive brain stimulation technique, in treating young people (16‐30 years old) with depression. (Investigator initiated)

Kate Gunningham

Individualised Theta Burst TMS for depression - Individualised TBS

This trial is exploring the individualisation of   target site and frequency of TBS for depression, assessing the clinical and neurophysiology outcomes of 20 sessions via TMS –EEG, & NIRS. (Investigator initiated)

Dr Pakin Kaewpijit

The International Randomised Controlled Trial of Two Forms of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) for Severe Depression: Focal Electrically Administered Seizure Therapy (FEAST) and Right Unilateral Ultrabrief ECT - iFEAST

This is an NHMRC funded, double blind, randomized, clinical multicentre trial, contrasting an optimal form of ECT [ultrabrief, right unilateral ECT] with FEAST, in treating patients with major depression, conducted at multiple sites in Australia and the US. (Investigator initiated, collaborative)

Prof Paul Fitzgerald

A Phase 2a Proof‐of‐Concept Study of R‐107 for the Treatment of Refractory Major Depressive Disorder: BEDROC ‐ Beating DepRession with Oral Controlled release of R‐107 - BEDROC

A multicentre, open‐label, phase 2a safety extension study to evaluate the safety and tolerability of oral ketamine (R‐107) in subjects with refractory Major Depressive Disorder - not currently recruiting (Commercially Sponsored)

BEDROC-1

Follow on study from BEDROC to ensure those in placebo or having responded to the medication can have access. (Investigator initiated)

Dr Natalia Contreras

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Optimising brain stimulation for treatment of Obsessive ‐Compulsive Disorder - Optimised TBS for OCD

This outpatient study combines behavioural analyses, neuroimaging, and brain stim, aiming to provide initial proof‐ of‐concept evidence that an optimised, three‐sites TBS regime represents a reliable and effective intervention for OCD. (Investigator Initiated clinical trial, funded by NHMRC)

Dr Oscar Murphy

Therapeutic use of transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - tACS in OCD - Tx

The study is a randomised, controlled, blinded clinical trial, exploring the use of remote treatment with alpha transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) when compared to a placebo stimulation in individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). (Investigator initiated – PhD study)

Dr Prabhavi Perera

Alzheimer’s Disease

Investigating the effect of repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) as a treatment for Alzheimer's Disease - Weston

Investigation of the effects of repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) treatment on patients with probable early or moderate Alzheimer’s disease. This study will be conducted across three international sites, two in Canada and this one in Australia. (Investigator Initiated clinical trial, funded by the philanthropic Weston Brain Institute in Canada)

Dr Oscar Murphy & Dr Melanie Emonson

Autism Spectrum Disorders

A clinical trial of theta burst stimulation to enhance social relating in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) - TBS for ASD

Investigation of theta burst stimulation to the right temporoparietal junction, compared with medial prefrontal cortex stimulation to in improving social relating among adolescents and young adults with ASD. (Investigator initiated ‐ Collaborative)

Dr Oscar Murphy

Experimental Trials

Below is the list of experimental trials including a brief description, trial type and coordinator details.

Associations Between Individual Difference, rTMS-Induced Brain Changes and Relapse In Depression - EEG Predictors

This study will look at the rTMS-induced brain changes and cognitive performance changes that occur immediately after treatment and over a longitudinal follow-up period in individuals who have undergone rTMS treatment, to assist in identifying predictors of relapse. (Investigator initiated – PhD Study)

Aleksandra Miljevic

Equivalence and stimulation parameter investigations for Brainamp (StimEEGV2b): a purpose developed transcranial alternating current stimulator (tACS) - Brainamp Stage 1 ‐ 4

A within subjects randomised blinded two session study, to assess the self‐reported tolerability and side effects between the BrainAmp and tACS StartStim devices. (Investigator initiated)

Greg Humble

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental and cognitive health - Impact of COVID-19: online surveys

The aim of this study is to explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental and cognitive health examining resilience and risk factors in the general community and those who have experienced COVID 19, using online surveys. (Investigator initiated)

Dr Oscar Murphy

ICON-DB: an international collaboration examining the use of EEG in the prediction of antidepressant response to TMS - ICON-DB

This is a collaboration spanning multiple countries and major centres around the world exploring the development of EEG based tools for integration into use with rTMS therapy in depression. (Investigator initiated)

Prof Paul Fitzgerald & Dr Neil Bailey

Effects of frequency on enhancement & modulation of neural oscillations using brief transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) - Frequency effect of tACS

Investigation of the minimum tACS stimulation duration that is required to produce neurophysiological effects, the role of tACS duration in length of after‐effects, and the effects of non‐ continuous tACS at rest and during cognitive task performance – Not currently recruiting. (Investigator initiated – Masters Study)

Robert Cooper

Investigating Predictors of Antidepressant Response to Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: new machine learning analysis - TMS Predictors & Machine Learning

This is an industry collaboration exploring the use of advanced machine learning techniques to predict antidepressant response to TMS therapy. (Industry collaboration)

Prof Paul Fitzgerald

Australian Interventional Pharmacotherapy and Psychedelic Assisted Psychotherapy Research Registry

An Australian Registry for collection of outcome and safety data on the use of novel interventional pharmacotherapy approaches, including ketamine treatment and psychedelic assisted psychotherapy (PAPTx) depression, PTSD & OCD. (Investigator initiated)

Prof Paul Fitzgerald