Student Projects

Exploring the genetic basis of depression

Project Supervisor/s

PhD or Honours project. Seeking a motivated student with experience in psychology, genetics, epidemiology or statistics for dry lab analysis focused project.


One in five Australians will be diagnosed with depression in their lifetime, and approximately one third of those will not respond to treatment. While some progress has been made in understanding the role genetics plays in risk of depression, there is still much more understanding needed to elucidate the biology of disorder. We are particularly interested in exploring whether genetics plays a role in how people experience depression and the extent to which genes may play a role in how people respond to treatment. This will encompass exploring depression features, such as age of onset, recurrence, and the differences in depression risk factors between males and females as well as treatment response variables such as medication efficacy and side-effects.


i) Better understand how genes play a role in depression risk as well as depression features such as age of onset, recurrence etc.

ii) Assess whether depression treatment response traits are heritable.

iii) Identify genetic variants influencing these traits.


We already have access to national and international large-scale genetic data sets (N=20,000 and N= 500,000 respectively) which collected data on depression risk, features, medication response including efficacy, tolerability, and adverse side-effects as well as psychotherapy response. The student will employ a range of statistical genetic approaches such as, genome-wide association studies and polygenic risk scoring, to interrogate these data and to determine the genes and pathways underlying depression-related traits as well as explore the relationships between depression and other phenotypes.

To apply for this project, please contact the project supervisor/s

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