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Dr Adrienne Withall

Dr Adrienne Withall
+61 2 9385 9428

Research Interests:

Dr Withall is a Kurial-Yuin woman, holding a combined research and teaching role in the School of Population Health, where she is a Leader of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Theme. She is an expert on ageing and mental health and her research focuses on promoting wellbeing, care and cognitive health for at-risk populations. She leads a sub-stream on Ageing at the Margins in the recently funded UNSW Ageing Futures Institute (

Adrienne is an early career researcher (<7 years post-PhD research FTE), and is author of >50 journal publications, an edited book Alcohol and the Adult Brain, and 5 book chapters. Her research is highly cited and she currently has a h-index of 24, with 1965 citations. Her research focuses on young onset dementia, particularly vulnerable groups at risk of early cognitive decline (including those with drug and alcohol abuse, older offenders, and concussion), and she aims to address inequities through early intervention and access to optimal care. She uses mixed methods to aid the translation of her epidemiological and health services research into policy and clinical practice.

Dr Withall is currently leading an NHMRC Ideas Grant (2021-2023, $845,000) to investigate "Audio app-delivered Screening for Cognition and Age-related health in Prisoners (ASCAPE)”. She is also Lead Investigator on an investigator-initiated clinical trial funded by the Ageing Futures Institute and an Industry partner examining inflammaging, the microbiome and frailty (2021). Dr Withall is a Chief Investigator on an MRFF COVID-19 grant examining a text mining and data linkage approach to investigate the mental health needs of the population during the COVID-19 period (2021-2022).

Her other currently funded research includes the relationships between river health and mental health for Aboriginal people living in Menindee (funded by the Plus Alliance), health and wellbeing impacts of the Deadly Runners program (funded by the Ageing Futures Institute), and understanding the health needs of younger people with disabilities discharged from hospital to residential aged care (funded by the Summer Foundation).

She is a Management Committee Member of the SPHERE Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing CAG. She partners regularly with a range of stakeholders, including Aboriginal communities (e.g. Marcia Ella Duncan and the La Perouse LALC to design the first on-country experience for UNSW medical students), people with Lived Experience (e.g. via the Black Dog Institute) community organisations (e.g. Dementia Australia), health services (e.g. Northern Sydney LHD Drug and Alcohol Services, NSW Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network) & industry partners (e.g. Flourish Australia, Corrective Services NSW).

Dr Withall teaches into Phases 1 and 2 of the undergraduate Medical Program, lecturing on diverse areas such as mental health, ageing, dementia, cultural competence and developing reflective practitioner and critical thinking skills. She is also Co-Convenor of the Phase 2 Society and Health course. At a postgraduate level, she convenes the course Public Health Aspects of Mental Health (PHCM9761), which is run with the Black Dog Institute as a Partner. Previously she taught at the University of Sydney through the Faculty of Health Sciences, teaching a diverse mix of allied health professionals about health psychology, research methods and neuropsychology. 

Dr Withall regularly reviews grants for national (e.g. NHMRC, ARC, Dementia Australia Research Foundation, Bupa Health Foundation) as well as international grant bodies (such as UK Medical Research Council, Alzheimer's Research UK, Wellcome Trust, Health Research Board Ireland and Netherlands Organisation of Health, Research and Development). She also regularly serves on NHMRC grant panels.

Adrienne is a Member of the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District Dual Diagnosis Substance Use & Neurocognitive Disorder Working Group. She has served as an Advocate for people with young onset dementia on various working parties and policy groups, as well as during the Senate Enquiry on Younger People in Residential Care. She was an Invited Plenary Speaker on “Young Onset Dementia: Diverse Disorders, Diverse Care” at the Alzheimer’s Disease International Conference in Kyoto in 2017. In 2015 Dr Withall was chosen to represent UNSW at the 2015 Kyoto Global Conference for Rising Public Health Researchers (Ageing theme) and in 2017 she was chosen as UNSW’s Early-Mid Career Nominee for the NHMRC project grant round and acted as Assistant Chair of the Immunity and Infectious Diseases Project Grant Panel.

Adrienne currently supervises PhD, DrPH, Masters, and Honours/ILP students. 

BSc (Hons) University of Sydney, 1997 (Majors: Psychology and Physiology)

PhD University of Sydney, 2006 (Neuropsychology)