Breakthrough is pleased to announce an exciting piece of research it will fund in conjunction with the University of Sydney and the Brain and Mind Centre.

Dr Jacob Crouse is the recipient of Breakthrough’s first Fellowship with his focus on circadian sleep rhythms and the impact of mood disorders. It will look at how disturbances in sleep patterns are common in mood disturbances which could be a pre-cursor to more significant mental health issues.

“All life on earth has clocks inside of themselves that tells us when to do different things – when we should be looking for food, when our muscles are at their strongest, when we should be concentrating best – these things are organised throughout the day so we’re doing the right things at the right times,” Dr Crouse said.

“These body clocks are governed by a master clock in our brain that tells us our variation of mood throughout the day and it controls how much energy we feel we have. There’s evidence that shows that people that have mood disorders, may have issues with these body clocks.”

Breakthrough Executive Director John Mannion said Breakthrough was excited to be part of such innovative research.

“In 2017 the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology was awarded to a trio of circadian researchers so it’s a really compelling time to be investigating sleep patterns and how it could be a pre-cursor to mental health issues,” Mr Mannion said.

“It’s exciting to be part of this research and work with Dr Crouse and his team because disrupted sleep patterns could be looked at through the lens of adolescence, those with shift work, metabolic disorders or dementia. This could provide breakthroughs for a number of cohorts of people.”

The research will be overseen by Professor Ian Hickie who is Co-Director, Health and Policy at The University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre and was an inaugural Commissioner on Australia’s National Mental Health Commission.

The focus of the Fellowship over the next three years will look at the biological sensitivity to light related to different mood disorder profiles and the inter-relationships between light exposure and motor activity over days and weeks.

This is the first collaboration between Breakthrough and the University of Sydney.

Dr Crouse is a post-doctoral research fellow with the Youth Mental Health & Technology Team at the Brain and Mind Centre. He received a Bachelor of Psychology (Hons) in 2015, a Master of Brain and Mind Sciences in 2016, and a PhD (Medicine) in 2021.

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