- Suitable for both honours and PhD student and flexible for clinical students
Immune activation and inflammation during pregnancy has been directly implicated in the aetiology of major mental illnesses, such as mood disorder, autism and schizophrenia.
Preliminary evidence showed that the cross talk between the microbiome and the immune system plays a major role. We propose to investigate whether a diet with anti-inflammatory properties, such as the Mediterranean diet, implemented during pregnancy and/or in the early stages of life can reduce the onset and severity of mental disorders. We will use an experimental approach to determine the timing and duration of the diet intervention and the effects on behaviour, cognition, microbiome, and immune function. We will perform a retrospective study using the Queensland Twin Registry to interrogate the nature of maternal diet and the incidence of behavioural and affective disorder onset in their children.
This program will provide measurable evidence on how diet modification can benefit mental health.