The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) will invest $3.75 million into research investigating the link between vitamin D and mental health.

The prestigious NHMRC John Cade Fellowship in Mental Health Research will provide Professor John McGrath with $750,000 per year for five years to study ways to prevent disorders such as schizophrenia. 

Professor McGrath is a leader in this field of research, having discovered that low vitamin D during early life is a risk factor for schizophrenia.

“Since proposing that low developmental vitamin D may be a risk factor for schizophrenia, we have published a major case-control study based on Danish neonatal blood spots that confirmed a direct link between vitamin D concentration and schizophrenia,” Professor McGrath said.

The NHMRC John Cade Fellowship in Mental Health Research will enable Professor McGrath to expand on current research to examine the association between early life vitamin D status and childhood brain development, as well as mental health in later life.

The research will involve studies of Brisbane-based and international cohorts. 

“The Fellowship will also help to establish clinical trials in Queensland and train junior psychiatrists in clinical neuroscience at QBI,” Professor McGrath said.

QBI Director, Professor Perry Bartlett, said this work was an outstanding example of the innovative research produced at the Institute.

“When Professor McGrath and his colleagues first began exploring the idea of a link between vitamin D and schizophrenia, he was taking mental health research into uncharted territory.”

“It’s bold steps like these that keep QBI’s work at the forefront of brain research,” he said. 

Professor McGrath received one of two NHMRC John Cade Fellowships, which were established to recognise visionary, innovative mental health research leaders with outstanding records and international achievements.

The Fellowships are one-off awards and are part of the Government’s strategic investment in mental health research in Australia.