About Professor Ian Hickie
The Brain & Mind Sciences is one of the most fascinating areas of medical research. At its centre is improving our understanding of the nature of our most human experiences – emotion, affection, cognition and social relationships. When things go wrong, we see the most devastating effects on a person’s quality of life. Improving our treatments, and making sure that people can access to those interventions, lie at the heart of my work. There is no doubt that the Brain & Mind Sciences will be at the centre of major breakthroughs in the 21st century. The impacts of such advances will go well beyond the treatment of illness to impact on broader issues such as child development, educational practices, workplace transformations and community development.
Professor Hickie is Executive Director of the Brain & Mind Research Institute, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Sydney and an NHMRC Australian Medical Research Fellow. He is a member of the Foundation Executive Committee of Headspace: the National Youth Mental Health Foundation and is a member of the Australian National Advisory Council on Drugs. In July 2008 Professor Hickie was appointed to the Federal Health’s Minister’s new National Advisory Council on Mental Health. Professor Hickie's research integrates clinical and neurobiological research with health service reform. He also has a high interest in the interactions between circadian rhythms and psychiatric illness and is working on the development of novel circadian-based interventions for mood disorders.
Professor Hickie is a Consultant Psychiatrist, he is also an inaugural NHMRC Australian Fellow from 2008 until 2013, which recognises excellence in Australian Medical Research. Professor Hickie's career achievements are highlighted in his striking capacity to integrate clinical and neurobiological research and health service reform. This has been recognised not only by national community awards (Australian Honours Award of Member (AM) in the General Division, 2006) but also by his recent NHMRC Australian Fellowship. He has also received professional awards (2005: RANZCP Margaret Tobin Award for the Fellow who has made the most significant contribution to administrative psychiatry in the last five years) and relevant academic awards (1997: RANZCP Senior Research Award) in recognition of his significant research contributions. In October 2006, the Australian Financial Review included Professor Hickie in its list of the top 10 cultural influences. The specific comments noted his role as a "long-term campaigner" and "the person who orchestrated the campaign" that led to the Council of Australian Governments' (COAG) announcements ($4 billion dollars over five years) and congratulated him on "(his) depth of involvement and (his) huge contribution". The COAG funds focus particularly on issues championed by Professor Hickie and colleagues, and include primary care mental health services, new Medicare rebates for psychological services, early intervention services and integration of employment, welfare and other social services with health services for consumers with mental illness. From 1997 to 2003, Professor Hickie was Professor of Community Psychiatry at the University of NSW. His work there focused not only on service reform but on developing novel techniques for studying neurobiological changes in affective disorders. He conducted a longitudinal study, which was one of the first to demonstrate clearly that changes in subcortical brain structures (particularly deep white matter abnormalities) were of functional and prognostic significance. Outcomes from this study included a high profile Biological Psychiatry paper (Hickie et al. Biol Psych 1995), which was widely cited (198 citations) and provided the impetus for subsequent international research investigating neurobiological underpinnings of affective disorders. In October 2000, he was appointed as the inaugural CEO of beyondblue: the national depression initiative and from 2003 to 2006 served as its Clinical Advisor. In 2003, he was appointed as the inaugural executive director of the flagship BMRI at the University of Sydney. This institute leads innovation in research, clinical service and health policy developments in the Brain and Mind Sciences. It has attracted over $80 million in new investments in infrastructure in this key health domain. Professor Hickie's research track record is extensive. Over his research career, he has published over 220 peer-reviewed journal articles, 20 book chapters and 30 educational materials. Professor Hickie is a fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. He serves on various mental health and policy committees and in 2007, he was appointed to the Prime Minister's Australian National Council on Drugs. He is a founding member of the new National Youth Mental Health Foundation (‘headspace'). In 2007, Professor Hickie was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia.