Our People

Alex Ryan


Child & Youth Mental Health



Alex completed his Honours degree in Psychological Science at the University of Queensland. Since then, he has worked with the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, the University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research and most recently the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute. Alex has a keen interest in areas of psychoneuroimmunology, looking at how the immune system interacts with brain, behaviour and mental illness. As such he is currently enrolled in a PhD project investigating the presence of antibodies targeting brain cells in people who have been admitted to hospital for the first time for mental health treatment. It is hoped a better understanding of how the brain and immune system interact will help to inform how we view and treat certain mental illnesses in the future.


  • Affiliate – QIMR Berghofer
  • PhD Student – UQ School of Medicine
  • Associate Lecturer – UQCCR
  • Research Officer – QCMHR





Current Area of Research

Alex’s current area of research is psychoneuroimmunology, relating brain, behaviour and the immune system. Dysfunction of the muscarinic acetylcholine receptors in the central nervous system has been hypothesised to play an important role in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and Alex is currently investigating the prevalence and clinical relevance of anti-neuronal antibodies directed towards these receptors in people hospitalized for treatment of psychotic illness.  It is thought that the presence of anti-muscarinic receptor antibodies may identify a subgroup of people with schizophrenia, potentially informing aetiopathogenesis, clinical presentation and treatment.


2019: Lead author on a publication comprehensively reviewing the role of antibodies directed against the muscarinic acetylcholine receptors in people with schizophrenia

2018: Author on a paper showing a subset of people admitted to hospital with first episode psychosis have anti-neuronal antibodies detectable in serum and are responsive to immunotherapy. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to optimising recovery

2016: Author on a novel study finding that several neurocognitive deficits, including social cognition, can persist long into the recovery of anti-NMDAR encephalitis

2014: Demonstrated that visual spatial attention is capable of modulating synaptic plasticity in the human motor cortex


2019: Clinical Research Award – Metro North Research Excellence Awards


2010: Bachelor of Psychological Science (Hons I), The University of Queensland