The role of genetics and epigenetics in co-morbidity of post-traumatic stress and migraine disorder

Individuals suffering from PTSD often report other health conditions including migraineDefining the exact nature of PTSD migraine comorbidity and the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying this association can be used as a target in clinical and therapeutic management of both disorders. This study aims to use an integrative genomics approach and various statistical methods to investigate biological mechanisms and molecular pathways underlying the development and progression of PTSD migraine comorbidity. We will use genomics data from various databases with genotypes, DNA methylation and gene expression data to identify the genesshared risk factors both genetic and environmental including stress, hormones and traumaand determine the direction of this association.  

 Principal Supervisor: Assoc. Prof. Divya Mehta 

Associate Supervisors: Prof. Dale R Nyholt and Prof. Lynn Griffiths  


Biopsychosocial factors associated with stress exposure in university students

Exposure to psychological stress affects the mental health of students and the University years (17-25 years) are a highly susceptible period for the onset of psychiatric disorders. The 2016 Student Experience Survey (QILT Social Research Centre, 2017) found that among Australian students who were considering exiting their course, 41% cited health and stress reasons and 35.4% had thoughts of self-harm or suicide. Thus, it is crucial to support a mentally healthy student population and better understand the effects of stressors on students to provide effective and early treatment of mental ill-health.

This unique multidisciplinary project will analyse mental health outcomes associated with stress exposure at the levels of

a) individual mental health (psychological distress, resilience and other mental health measures),

b) the genome (epigenetic biomarkers) and

c) the community (social support, University connectedness, belongingness).

 Principal Supervisor: Assoc. Prof. Divya Mehta 

Associate Supervisors: Assoc.Prof. Trish Obst and Prof. Ian Shochet