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Medical Health Aged Care

Professor Jayashri Kulkarni AM recognised for mental health research and treatment achievements

Monash University 2 mins read

Professor Jayashri Kulkarni AM has been recognised for her many achievements in mental health research and treatment with two prestigious awards.

The HER Centre Australia director and Monash University psychiatry professor has received the 2024 RANZCP Senior Research Award and the Ian Simpson Award – two of the highest accolades in psychiatry.

Professor Kulkarni, who is also Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre (MAPrc) director, has spent more than 30 years improving the quality of care for women with mental illnesses by developing treatments tailored to their needs biologically, socially, and psychologically.

She has waged a relentless battle against alarming statistics around women's mental health; they are twice as likely as men to experience depression and four times as likely to experience anxiety. 

This pioneering research, advocacy, and personalised treatment approaches have helped transform  progress and challenge conventional diagnoses such as Borderline Personality Disorder.

Professor Kulkarni, who is just the second woman to receive the Ian Simpson Award, said she was proud to receive both prizes.

“I am humbled by these awards, which only serve to further inspire me to keep fighting and working every day to advocate for all women with mental illness, and to uncover new and more effective ways to treat these debilitating illnesses,” she said.

"Women's mental health as a field within psychiatry is just beginning to be recognised and there is a lot to be done in terms of researching and providing new ways forward. 

“My aim is to improve outcomes for women with mental ill health and I have many plans for clinical trials, education for health professionals and the general community plus new service implementation in the future."

Professor Kulkarni remains passionate and energised to put women’s mental health on the agenda for politicians, health care providers and people with lived experience of mental illness.

HER Centre Australia Deputy Director Associate Professor Caroline Gurvich said Professor Kulkarni’s  advocacy and research included new treatments for schizophrenia, complex trauma disorders and perimenopausal depression. 

“Her work has advanced knowledge and understanding about the potential impacts of oral contraceptives on mood as well as antipsychotic medication use during pregnancy,” Associate Professor Gurvich said. “A huge congratulations to Jayashri for these awards that are so well deserved.”

Clinical Trials Manager, Emmy Gavrilidis is one of many who have thrived under Professor Kulkarni’s leadership.

"Over my 15 years working at the centre I have been trained and nurtured in my learnings of clinical trials methodologies, data and management. I'm excited where clinical trials of new treatments for mental illness can lead,” she said. “Thank you Jayashri for developing new treatments for people who really need them." 

HER Centre manager Anthony de Castella said Professor Kulkarni’s worth with philanthropists was also pivotal in advancing research and mental illness treatments.

“The philanthropic partnerships and support received from so many people who have been moved and inspired by Jayashri’s ground-breaking message and her mission to change the way women with mental illness are treated, has been instrumental in her achievements to date,” he said. 

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