John McGrath received his medical degree from the University of Queensland. After working as a community-based psychiatrist, he moved into full-time research, becoming the Director of the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research in 1990. He holds appointments at The University of Queensland Department of Psychiatry and the Queensland Brain Institute.
His research aims to generate and evaluate nongenetic risk factors for schizophrenia. He has forged productive cross-disciplinary collaborations linking risk factor epidemiology with developmental neurobiology (e.g. using animal models to explore candidate exposures). In addition, he has supervised major systematic reviews of the incidence, prevalence and mortality of schizophrenia.
He has won several national and international awards including the Premier's Award for Medical Research, a Queensland-Smithsonian Fellowship, a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Residency, the Organon Senior Research Award, and the Founders’ Medal from the Australasian Society for Psychiatric Research. The Australian government awarded John a Centenary Medal in 2003 and in 2007 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM). He is an Associate Editor for Schizophrenia Bulletin, and is on the editorial boards of several international journals. He has published over 250 peer-reviewed articles.
The Epidemiology team are interested in the frequency measures related to serious mental disorders (e.g. incidence, prevalence, mortality, recovery/remission). We are also interested in the clinical and demographic correlates of adverse mental health outcomes – some of these may be modifiable risk factors and thus important from a public health perspective. We use large, community-based surveys, and birth cohorts. Our focus has been on psychotic disorders and psychotic-like experiences in the general population. In addition, we are examining the links between early life vitamin D status and risk of later mental illness, by directly measuring vitamin D (in collaboration with Darryl Eyles and many international collaborators).
Selected current projects
The demographic and clinical correlates of psychotic-like experiences
Using two large surveys conducted in Australia in 1997 and 2007, our group have undertaken a suite of studies designed to understand the clinical relevance of isolated psychotic-like experiences. Over recent years we have published many papers on this topic, and have made important contributions with respect to how psychotic-like experiences are associated with (a) an increased risk of later psychotic disorders (based on the MUSP study), (b) depression, anxiety and substance use disorders, (c) a family history of mental illness, (d) exposure to trauma, (e) an increased risk of suicidal ideation and behaviour, (f) general physical health, and (g) help-seeking.
The Survey of High Impact Psychosis (SHIP)
Our group was one of seven sites involved in the design and administration of the second Australian Survey of psychotic disorders. In collaboration with a large national team, we continue to explore key issues related to the needs of people with psychosis in Australia.
The association between vitamin D status and brain outcomes
In collaboration with Darryl Eyles, we are measuring early life vitamin D status and exploring if this changes the risk of later developing serious mental illness. These studies are in collaboration with colleagues in Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands.
McGrath JJ, Susser E (2009). New directions in the epidemiology of schizophrenia. Medical Journal of Australia. 190(4 Suppl):S7-9.
Saha S, Barendregt JJ, Vos T, Whiteford H, McGrath J (2008). Modelling disease frequency measures in schizophrenia epidemiology. Schizophrenia Research 104; 246-254.
Welham J, Scott J, Williams G, Najman J, O’Callaghan M, McGrath J. (2009) Growth in young adults who screen positive for non-affective psychosis: a birth cohort study. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 43(1):61-7.
Scott J, Martin G, Bor W, Saywer M, Clark J, McGrath J. (2009) The prevalence and correlates of hallucinations in Australian adolescents: Results from a National Survey. Schizophrenia Research 107(2-3):179-85.
Scott J, Welham J, Martin G, Bor W, Najman J, O’Callaghan M, Williams G, Aird R, McGrath J. (2009) Psychopathology during childhood and adolescence predicts delusional-like experiences in adults: a 21 year birth cohort study. American Journal of Psychiatry 166(5):567-74
McGrath JJ, Richard LJ. (2009) Why schizophrenia epidemiology needs developmental neurobiology – and vice versa. Schizophrenia Bulletin 35(3):577-81.
Saha S, Barnett A, Foldi C, Burns T, Eyles D, Buka S, McGrath J, (2009) Advanced Paternal Age Is Associated With Impaired Neurocognitive Outcomes during Infancy and Childhood. PLoS Medicine ;6(3):e40.
Eyles D, Anderson C, Ko P, Jones A, Thomas A, Burne T, Mortensen PB,
Nørgaard-Pedersen B, Hougaard DM, McGrath J. (2009) A sensitive LC/MS/MS assay of 25OH vitamin D3 and 25OH vitamin D2 in dried blood spots. Clin Chim Acta. 403(1-2):145-51.
D Eyles, R Morley, C Anderson, P Ko, T Burne, M Permezel, P Mortensen, B Nørgaard-Pedersen, D Hougaard, J McGrath. (2010) The utility of neonatal dried blood spots for the assessment of neonatal vitamin D status. Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology 24(3); 303-8.
Saha S, Barnett AG, Buka SL, McGrath JJ. (2009) Maternal age and paternal age are associated with distinct childhood behavioural outcomes in a general population birth cohort. Schizophr Res115(2-3):130-5
McGrath J. Is it time to trial vitamin D supplements for the prevention of schizophrenia? (2010) Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 121 (5), 321-324.
Scott J, Varghese D, McGrath (2010). As the twig is bent, the tree inclines – Adult mental health consequences of childhood adversity. Archives of General Psychiatry 67 (2). 111-112.
Crompton D, Groves A, McGrath J. (2010) What can we do to reduce the burden of avoidable deaths in those with serious mental illness? Epidemiologia E Psichiatria Sociale 19(1):4-7.
McGrath J, Welham J, Scott J, Varghese D, Degenhardt L, Hayatbakhsh M, Alati R, Williams G, Bor W. Najman J. (2010) Sibling-pair analysis confirms an association between cannabis use and psychosis-related outcomes in a cohort of young adults. Archives of General Psychiatry 67(5):440-7.
Varghese D, Scott J, Welham J, Bor W, Najman J, O’Callagan M, Williams G, McGrath J. (2011) Psychotic-like experiences in major depression and anxiety disorders: a population-based survey in young adults. Schizophrenia Bulletin. 32:389-93.
McGrath J, Saha S, Burne T, Eyles D. (2010) A systematic review of the association between common single nucleotide polymorphisms and 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations. Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 121(1-2):471-7
McGrath JJ, Eyles DW, Pedersen CB, Anderson C, Ko P, Burne TH, Norgaard-Pedersen B, Hougaard DM, Mortensen PB. (2010) Neonatal vitamin D status and risk of schizophrenia: a population-based case-control study. Archives of General Psychiatry 67(9):889-94.
Aird RL, Najman JM, Mamun AA, Scott J, McGrath J. (2010) Is the New Age phenomenon connected to delusion-like experiences? Analysis of survey data from Australia. Mental Health, Religion & Culture 13(1) 37-53.
Saha S, Scott J, Varghese D, McGrath J. (2011) The association between general psychological distress and delusional-like experiences: a large population-based study. Schizophrenia Research, 127; 246-51.
Varghese D, Saha S, Scott J, Chan RCK, McGrath J. (2011) The association between delusional-like experiences, general mental health and family history of mental disorder: a general population study. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics 156; 478-83.
Saha S, Scott J, Varghese D, McGrath J. (2011) The association between physical health and delusional-like experiences: a general population study, PLoS One. 6(4): e18566.
Saha S, Varghese D, Slade T, Degenhardt L, Mills C, McGrath J, Scott J. (2011) The association between trauma and delusional-like experiences. Psychiatry Research 189: 259-64.
McGrath J. Brown A, St Clair D. (2011). Prevention and schizophrenia – the role of dietary factors. Schizophrenia Bulletin 37; 272-83.
Brown AS, McGrath JJ. (2011) The prevention of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Bulletin 37; 257-61.
Saha S, Scott JG, Varghese D, Degenhardt L, Slade T, McGrath JJ. (2011) The association between delusional-like experiences, and tobacco, alcohol or cannabis use: a nationwide population-based survey. BMC Psychiatry. 11(1):202.
McGrath JJ, Lawlor DA. (2011) The search for modifiable risk factors for schizophrenia. Am J Psychiatry. 168(12):1235-8.
Saha S, Scott JG, Varghese D, McGrath JJ. (2011) Socio-economic disadvantage and delusional-like experiences: A nationwide population-based study. Eur Psychiatry. Epub ahead of print.
Agerbo E, Mortensen PB, Wiuf C, Pedersen MS, McGrath J, Hollegaard MV, et al. (2011) Modelling the contribution of family history and variation in single nucleotide polymorphisms to risk of schizophrenia: A Danish national birth cohort-based study. Schizophrenia Research. Epub ahead of print.
Mortensen PB, Pedersen CB, McGrath JJ, Hougaard DM, Norgaard-Petersen B, Mors O, et al. (2011) Neonatal antibodies to infectious agents and risk of bipolar disorder: a population-based case-control study. Bipolar Disord. 13(7-8):624-9.
McGrath JJ, Hannan AH, Gibson G. (2011) Decanalization, brain development and risk of schizophrenia. Translational Psychiatry 1, e14.
Dean AJ, Bellgrove MA, Hall T, Phan WM, Eyles DW, Kvaskoff D, McGrath J (2011) Effects of vitamin D supplementation on cognitive and emotional functioning in young adults--a randomised controlled trial. PLoS ONE.;6(11):e25966.
Frans EM, McGrath JJ, Sandin S, Lichtenstein P, Reichenberg A, Langstrom N, et al. (2011) Advanced paternal and grandpaternal age and schizophrenia: a three-generation perspective. Schizophr Res. 133(1-3):120-4.
Saha S, Scott JG, Johnston AK, Slade TN, Varghese D, Carter GL, McGrath JJ. (2011) The association between delusional-like experiences and suicidal thoughts and behaviour. Schizophrenia Research.132(2-3):197-202.
Wang Y, He G, He L, McGrath J. (2011) Do shared mechanisms underlying cell cycle regulation and synaptic plasticity underlie the. 3:282-4.
Galletly CA, Foley DL, Waterreus A, Watts GF, Castle DJ, McGrath JJ et al. (2012) Cardiometabolic risk factors in people with psychotic disorders: The second Australian national survey of psychosis. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 46(8): 753-761.
McGrath JJ. (2012) The early intervention debate provides a distraction from another ‘unspeakable truth’. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 46(7): 681-682.
Morgan VA, Waterreus A, Jablensky A, Mackinnon A, McGrath JJ, Carr V et al. (2012) People living with psychotic illness in 2010: The second Australian national survey of psychosis. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 46(8): 735-752.
Nowson CA, McGrath JJ, Ebeling PR, Haikerwal A, Daly RM, Sanders KM et al. (2012) Vitamin D and health in adults in Australia and New Zealand: a position statement. Med J Aust 196(11): 686-687.
Okkels N, Vernal D, Jensen S, McGrath J, Nielsen R. (2012) Changes in the diagnosed incidence of early onset schizophrenia over four decades. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. Epub ahead of print.
Tolppanen AM, Sayers A, Fraser WD, Lewis G, Zammit S, McGrath J et al. (2012) Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D3 and D2 and Non-Clinical Psychotic Experiences in Childhood. PLoS ONE 7(7): e41575.
Varghese D, Wray N, Scott J, Williams G, Najman J, McGrath J. (2012) The heritability of delusional‐like experiences. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica Epub ahead of print.
Waghorn G, Saha S, Harvey C, Morgan VA, Waterreus A, Bush R, McGrath J. (2012) ‘Earning and learning’in those with psychotic disorders: The second Australian national survey of psychosis. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 46(8): 774-785.
Chan RCK, Wang Y, Yan C, Zhao Q, McGrath J, Hsi X et al. (2012) A Study of Trait Anhedonia in Non-Clinical Chinese Samples: Evidence from the Chapman Scales for Physical and Social Anhedonia. PLoS ONE 7(4): e34275.
Saha S, Scott J, Varghese D and McGrath J (2012) The association between anxiety and depression and delusional-like experiences: A nationwide population based study. BMJ Open 30;2(3).
Saha S, Scott J, Varghese D and McGrath J (2011) The association between physical health and delusional-like experiences: a general population study. PLoS ONE 6: 1-5.
Saha S, Scott J, Varghese D and McGrath J (2011) The association between socio-economic disadvantage and delusional-like experiences: A nationwide population-based study. European Psychiatry. Epub ahead of print.
Saha S, Scott J, Varghese D and McGrath J (2011) The association between tobacco, cannabis and stimulants abuse/dependence and delusional-like experiences: A nationwide population based study. BMC Psychiatry 11: 202.
Saha S, Varghese D, Slade T et al. (2011) The association between trauma and delusional-like experiences. Psychiatry Research 189: 259-64.
Varghese D, Saha S, Scott J, Chan R and McGrath J (2011) The association between delusional-like experiences, general mental health and family history of mental disorder: a general population study. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuroscience Genetics: 478-83.
Ferrari AJ, Saha S, McGrath JJ et al. (2012) Health states for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder within the Global Burden of Disease 2010 Study. Popul Health Metr 10: 16.
McGrath JJ, Beck-Nielsen SS, Cantor-Graae E, Mortensen PB and Pedersen CB (2012) The association between childhood rickets and nonaffective psychosis: a Danish record-linkage study. Schizophr Res 137: 256-7.
Paxton GA, Teale GR, Nowson C, Mason RS, McGrath JJ, Thompson M, Siafarikas A, Rodda CP and Munns CF. (in press). Vitamin D and health in pregnancy, infants, children and adolescents in Australia and New Zealand: a position statement. Medical Journal of Australia (accepted August 2012).
Erika Jääskeläinen E, Juola P, Hirvonen N, McGrath JJ, Saha S, Isohanni M, Veijola J, Miettunen J. A systematic review and meta-analysis of recovery in schizophrenia, Schizophrenia Bulletin in press (accepted October 2012).
Hamlyn J, Duhig M, McGrath JJ, Scott J. Modifiable risk factors for schizophrenia and autism - shared risk factors impacting on brain development. Neurobiology of Disease in press (accepted October 2012).
Frans E, Sandin S, Reichenberg A, Langstrom N, Lictenstein P, McGrath J, Hultman C. Autism Risk Develops Across Generations: A Population Based Study of Advancing Grandpaternal and Paternal Age. Archives of General Psychiatry in press (accepted October 2012).
McGrath J and Meyer-Lindenberg A. (in press). From Epidemiology to Mechanisms of Illness. In Silverstein S, Moghaddam B, Wykes T, editors. Ernst Strüngmann Forum: Schizophrenia: Evolution and Synthesis. MIT Press.
Craig Morgan, Michael O’Donovan, Robert A. Bittner, Kristin Cadenhead, John McGrath, Steven M. Silverstein, Heike Tost, Peter Uhlhaas, Peter Jones and Aristotle Voineskos. (in press). How Can Risk and Resilience Factors Be Leveraged to Optimize Discovery Pathways? In Silverstein S, Moghaddam B, Wykes T, editors. Ernst Strüngmann Forum: Schizophrenia: Evolution and Synthesis. MIT Press.
Morgan, V.A., Waterreus, A.J., Jablensky, A.V., Mackinnon, A., McGrath, J.J., Carr, V., Bush, R., Castle, D.J., Cohen, M., Harvey, C., Galletly, C., Stain, H.J., Neil, A., McGorry, P., Hocking, B., Shah, S.M., Saw, S. 2011, People living with psychotic illness 2010. Report on the second Australian national survey, Communications Branch Dept of Health and Aging, Australia.