The University of Newcastle’s Professor Ulrich Schall has been appointed the first Chair of Schizophrenia Research in Cognitive Neuroscience in Australia.

Professor Schall was awarded this prestigious post at the University of Newcastle in partnership with the Schizophrenia Research Institute, funded by the NSW Government’s Department of Trade and Investment.

The Schizophrenia Research Institute is the only national medical research institute solely dedicated to discovering the ways to prevent and cure schizophrenia.  Established in 1996 as Australia’s first virtual medical research Institute, the organisation conducts and supports schizophrenia research in hospitals, universities and research institutes across the country and internationally.

Professor Ulrich Schall.

“I am very excited and honoured by the appointment because it gives me the opportunity to apply what we have learnt about brain function in relation to schizophrenia and to explore potential novel ways to prevent the onset of the illness,” Professor Schall said.

Until now, Professor Schall had worked with other cognitive neuroscience researchers at the University of Newcastle but his appointment places him as a figurehead of the Institute’s cognitive neuroscience research program and positions him with two other schizophrenia-focused research Chairs in Australia; the Macquarie Group Foundation Chair in Developmental Neurobiology held by Professor Cyndi Shannon Weickert and the Chair of Schizophrenia Epidemiology and Population Health held by Professor Vaughan Carr, CEO of the Schizophrenia Research Institute.

“This is a significant boost for our research program because it shines a spotlight on three important areas of scientific study that complement each other,” Professor Carr said.

Professor Schall will build a centre of excellence in the area of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Newcastle with a team of researchers, but will also work with other scientists in a variety of areas as well as other researchers in the Schizophrenia Research Institute network across Australia.

The work will include a major study of the brain structure and function of young people at high risk of developing psychosis to try to discover ways to prevent the onset of schizophrenia.