Professor Daniel Hermens is Deputy Director at UniSC’s Thompson Institute, a world-class hub for mental health research, education and clinical services.
Daniel is a cognitive psychophysiologist with a keen interest in the biological aspects of psychology.
He leads the Thompson Institute’s Youth Mental Health and Neurobiology program. This includes the ground-breaking Longitudinal Adolescent Brain Study (LABS) which is tracking brain development throughout its most dynamic phase of adolescence. Through regular brain imaging and psychological and cognitive assessments, Dan’s team is building a world-first bank of data and aims to identify new ways to address the emergence of mental health disorders in young people.
His research program also includes novel imaging studies examining the time-course of neurotransmitters and the brain effects of glutamatergic agents (eg ketamine, alcohol). Other recent work has been to examine the neurobiological underpinning of alcohol-induced impairments in young people.
In addition to brain development, Daniel studies psychiatric and substance use disorders in young people. He has training and expertise in youth mental health, cognitive psychophysiology, neuropsychology, neuroimaging, substance misuse and clinical trials.
He has extensive expertise in conducting large neurobiologically informed longitudinal cohort studies, with multimodal (neuropsychological, neuroimaging) datasets of various patient groups, such as depression, psychosis, bipolar disorder and substance misuse.
Dan’s prior work made significant contributions to the fields of ADHD and schizophrenia. His PhD research involved neurophysiological measures of central and autonomic nervous system activity in ADHD, the results of which have had profound implications for diagnosis and treatment. He was the first to describe sex-based differences in patterns of nervous system activity in ADHD and consequently helped to predict which patients would respond best to stimulant vs non-stimulant medication. The resultant two publications were each in the ‘Top 25 Hottest Articles’ list in the respective journals. His other major contribution to neurobiology includes reconceptualisation of the role of a biomarker for schizophrenia.
Daniel has published more than 260 peer-reviewed articles in top ranked medical, psychological, psychiatric, neuroimaging journals (eg BMC Medicine, Cortex, British Journal of Psychiatry, Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, Biological Psychiatry, Human Brain Mapping), with 11,000+ citations and h-index of 59 (Google Scholar).
Over his career, Daniel has been a named investigator of grant funding totalling more than $6M. He has been invited to speak at national scientific meetings, community and professional forums including high schools, children’s hospitals, university colleges and medical programs. Daniel has made numerous oral presentations of this work at several international meetings (eg International Society of Affective Disorders, Society for Adolescent Medicine Annual Meeting, World Congress of Psychophysiology).
As a teacher, Daniel has made strong, sustained commitments to curriculum development and lectures of postgraduate programs. He is the program coordinator of the Mental Health and Neuroscience postgraduate program offered by the Thompson Institute. He is also an extremely dedicated supervisor of higher-degree research students, having supervised more than 30 PhD, MPhil and honours students.
National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Women in Health Science - Nominated Member 2022-2024
- 2023 - Excellence in Graduate Research Supervision Award, University of the Sunshine Coast
- 2013 - Early career researcher overseas travel grant, Sydney Medical School, U Sydney
- 2010 - Early career investigator award, Australasian Schizophrenia Conference
- 2006 - Postgraduate research publication prize, School of Psychology, U Sydney: Most publications in 2005
- 2003 - Lucy Firth postgraduate scholarship, School of Psychology, University of Sydney
- 2002 - Best poster presentation (postgraduate student), Australasian Society for Psychophysiology Conference and Functional Brain Mapping Symposium
- 2001 - Research & Training Fellowship (Full-time), NSW Institute of Psychiatry, Research project: “Sex differences in ADHD”
- Society for Mental Health Research
- IEPA Early Intervention in Mental Health
Higher degree research (HDR) supervision
Primary Supervisor (Completions)
2010-13: Manreena Kaur, PhD, Discipline of Brain & Mind Sciences, University of Sydney. Thesis title: “Reconceptualising neurophysiological biomarkers of schizophrenia: An investigation of the MMN/P3a complex in early stage psychiatric disorders”.
2012-15: Kate Chitty, PhD, Discipline of Brain & Mind Sciences, University of Sydney. Thesis title: “The psychophysiology and in vivo neurochemistry of alcohol use in young people with bipolar disorder”.
2014-18: Frank Iorfino, PhD, Discipline of Brain & Mind Sciences, University of Sydney. Thesis title: “Personalised mental health care for young people: Using past outcomes to build future solutions”.
2015-18: Ashleigh Tickell, PhD, Central Clinical School, University of Sydney. Thesis Title: “Developing the effectiveness of personalised interventions for young adults with affective disorders: Examination of neurocognitive screening and feedback”.
2016-18: Sophia Bogaty, MPhil, Central Clinical School, University of Sydney. Thesis Title: “A comprehensive analysis of neurocognition in young psychosis patients with current cannabis use”.
2018-2021, Daniel Jamieson, PhD, Thompson Institute, University of the Sunshine Coast. Thesis Title: “Adolescent sleep quality, white matter development and psychological distress: Understanding the connection”.
Potential research projects for HDR students
HDR projects are available in the ground-breaking Longitudinal Adolescent Brain Study, particularly those involving brain imaging (EEG, magnetic resonance spectroscopy), cognition and onset of mental disorder. Topics include but are not limited to:
- Brain imaging developmental trajectories of adolescents
- Biomarkers of binge drinking in youth
- Functional imaging of alcohol-induced aggression
- Neurobiological factors that contribute to suicidality in youth
- Neurophysiological (EEG) and neurochemical markers of ketamine response
- Neuroscience of decision making in young people
- Novel imaging of neurotransmitter dynamics
|Project name||Investigator/s||Funding body||Year|
|A randomised controlled trial of low-dose ketamine in youth with severe depression and elevated suicide risk||Davey, Loo, Cotton, Glozier, Baune, Harrison, Hermens, Somogyi, Martin||NHMRC Project Grant A$2,232,757||2018-21|
|A randomized controlled trial of oxytocin nasal spray for alcohol dependence||Guastella, Haber, Hermens, Morley, Lagopoulos, Song||NHMRC Project Grant A$673,035||2017-19|
|Erythrocyte Membrane Fatty Acid Concentrations and Myelin Integrity in Young People at Ultra-High Risk of Psychosis||Amminger, Pantelis, Whitford, Whittle, Fornito, Hermens.||NHMRC Project Grant, A$390,879||2014-17|
|Bridging the gap from the Cradle to the Mosh Pit: A pilot study to develop links between childhood and youth brain disorder prospective cohorts and develop new research opportunities to elucidate causes, predictors and outcomes of abnormal brain development||Jones, Scott, Dale, Banati, Booy, Lagopoulos, Barnett, Hill-Cawthorne, Hermens, Khandaker||Health & Medical Research Strategy SPARC Implementation Fund, University of Sydney, A$50,000||2015-16|
|Clinical and neurobiological predictors of onset of major mental disorders (mania, psychosis, severe depression), and associated functional impairment, in adolescent and young adult twins: A prospective longitudinal study||Hickie, Martin, Scott, Gillespie, Hermens||NHMRC Project Grant A$1,291,586||2014-18|
|The Fish Oil Youth Depression Study: A randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled treatment trial||Amminger, McGorry, Hickie, Yung, Mackinnon, Berk, Davey, Hermens||NHMRC Mental Health Targeted Call for Research Grants, A$1,150,425||2012-16|
|Pathways to alcohol-induced brain impairment||Hermens, Hickie||NSW Ministry of Health (Mental Health Drug & Alcohol Office) NGO Grant, A$100,150||2012|
|Pathways to alcohol-induced brain impairment||Hickie, Hermens||NSW Ministry of Health (Mental Health Drug & Alcohol Office) NGO Grant, A$454,940||2010|
|Neurocognitive profiling of methamphetamine psychosis||Hermens||University of Sydney Bridging Support Grant, A$10,000||2010|
|Motion Menura multimodal mouse testing apparatus (MMTA): (Turnkey system comprising 6 testing chambers with associated control and tracking software)||McGregor, Einfeld, Kassiou, Arnold, Hunt, Kemp, Hermens||NHMRC Equipment Grant A$59,100||2009|
|Distinguishing psychosis with and without methamphetamine use: a neurobiological investigation.||Hermens.||Early Career Researcher Grant Scheme, University of Sydney A$39,722||2008|
- youth mental health
- suicide prevention
Professor Daniel Hermens, BSc W'gong., Grad Dip (Psychol) Syd., PhD Syd. HDR Supervisor Professor Daniel Hermens is a cognitive psychophysiologist who studies brain development, as well as psychiatric and substance use disorders in young people. He leads the Youth Mental Health & Neurobiology program and is the Deputy Director at the Thompson Institute. Daniel has training and expertise in youth mental health, cognitive psychophysiology, neuropsychology, neuroimaging, substance misuse and clinical trials. He has extensive expertise in conducting large neurobiologically informed longitudinal cohort studies, with multimodal (neuropsychological, neuroimaging) datasets of various patient groups, such as depression, psychosis, bipolar disorder and substance misuse.
In the news
Brain links to children’s anxiety: study results18 Sep
MRI scans have shown that practising mindfulness can help rewire the brain connectivity of pre-teens with anxiety and attention issues, in new UniSC Thompson Institute research.
What the future of youth mental health care might look like, as brain study reaches milestone5 Jul
As the Longitudinal Adolescent Brain Study (LABS) turns 5, Professor Daniel Hermens from UniSC's Thompson Institute has published research suggesting the future of preventative mental health could lie in giving 12-year-olds brain scans.