In the lead up to Lifestyle Medicine 2018, we will be giving you the chance to get to know our speakers, their passion and their work in our ‘Meet the Speakers’ series.

Professor Sarnyai is a neuroscientist researching mental illness at the Laboratory of Psychiatric Neuroscience at James Cook University. He has received various awards over his career, which has spanned 4 countries and numerous decades. He shared a few thoughts about his passion for his work and for Lifestyle Medicine with us:

“The neuroscience of mental illness is a very rapidly advancing field.

In the basic science arena I see major advances in our ability to identify, and then specifically target, certain neural circuits in the brain for therapeutic benefit. This targeting can be pharmacological, behavioural or even nutritional…  There’s also great potential in redefining mental illness on the basis of underlying neurobiology and further developing a Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) approach, rather than getting stuck with the classic symptoms-based approach.

I also expect that application of integrated, smartphone-based technologies that collect and analyse physiological changes together with changes in brain activity and behaviour on a moment-to-moment basis, coupled with advanced neuro-feedback methods, can eventually be utilised by individual end-users in a highly personalised manner.

I see prevention as the Holy Grail to solve many of today’s challenges in mental illness…Prevention can be implemented across the entire lifespan, and even preconception. The promotion of healthy eating, exercise, effective stress management and resilience-building from a very early age could take us very far. Careful “tending” of our brain through optimal nutrition, exercise (both physical and mental), reducing the impact of traumatic events and toxic stress will result in a more resilient brain for life.

I am hoping to make a difference outside the walls of the laboratory by developing novel means to alleviate or prevent suffering of people with mental illness.

I would happily spend free time with my research, but also love to hop into in a campervan with my family and explore hidden corners of Australia; from the tropical rainforests, the outback deserts, the magical woods of Tasmania, as well as the New Zealand’s South Island.”

We are excited to have Professor Sarnyai adding to the delivery of excellent education at Lifestyle Medicine 2018.