Researcher

Associate Professor Bronwyn Margaret Graham

Biography

My research aims to identify the neurobiological causes of anxiety disorders, which are the most common class of mental illness in Australia, affecting 11% of men and almost twice as many women (18%) in a given year. A primary component of my research focuses on how sex hormones influence the development and treatment of anxiety disorders in women, with a view to develop sex-specific models of anxiety pathophysiology. My ultimate goal is to...view more

My research aims to identify the neurobiological causes of anxiety disorders, which are the most common class of mental illness in Australia, affecting 11% of men and almost twice as many women (18%) in a given year. A primary component of my research focuses on how sex hormones influence the development and treatment of anxiety disorders in women, with a view to develop sex-specific models of anxiety pathophysiology. My ultimate goal is to improve treatments for anxiety disorders (current treatments being ineffective for 50% of people) based on a nuanced understanding of the neurobiological factors that predict treatment needs, with a particular focus on tailoring treatments according to physiological differences between men and women. To achieve this, my lab at UNSW is one of few worldwide that conducts bench to bedside translational clinical neuroscience research, where basic processes are investigated in non-human animals, and then applied to clinical populations. I start with behavioural, molecular, and pharmacological research in rat models of anxiety (e.g. Graham & Daher, 2016, Neuropsychopharmacology), and then translate these findings to humans in experimental psychophysiological studies (e.g. Graham et al., Biological Psychiatry, 2017), from which I develop novel ways of enhancing treatments that I test in clinical trials (e.g. Graham et al. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2018). This approach has led to significant innovations in our understanding of anxiety and its treatment. For example, my work has been the first to show that uniquely female variables, like menstrual cycle status, use of the hormonal contraceptive pill, and motherhood, significantly influence the success of current gold-standard treatments for anxiety.


My Grants

Graham, B.M. (2022-2025). How do females overcome fear? New insights from the maternal brain. Australian Research Discovery Project, $418,416

Graham, B.M. (2022-2025). How hormones help to overcome fear: from rats to humans. Australian Research Discovery Project, $440,822

Grisham, J.R., Graham, B.M. (2022). Early intervention to address driving-related fear in rideshare drivers and predict recovery. Industry Network Seed Funding Grant, UNSW, $15,000

Richardson, R., Graham, B.M., Baker, K. (2021-22). Preclinical testing of novel cannabinoid therapeutic adjuncts for females with anxiety disorders. CannaPacific Industry Partner, $228,938

Richardson, R., Graham, B.M., Baker, K. (2021). Preclinical testing of novel cannabinoid therapeutic adjuncts for females with anxiety disorders. Industry Network Seed Funding Grant, UNSW, $25,000

Graham, B.M. (2021). Mothers do it differently: new insights on fear extinction mechanisms in females. UNSW Interlude Grant Scheme, $77,000

Graham, B.M. (2021). How hormones help to overcome fear: from rats to humans. UNSW Goldstar Grant, $25,000

Graham, B.M. Richardson, R., Werner-Seidler, A. (2021). Validating a novel biomarker of psychological resilience. UNSW Goldstar Grant, $25,000

Graham, B.M. (2018-2020). The impact of motherhood on fear extinction in female rats. Australian Research Council Discovery Project, $328,442

Graham, B.M., Richardson R. (2018-2020). A cross-species investigation of individual differences in fear regulation. Australian Research Council Discovery Project, $295,619

Graham, B.M. (2018). The UNSW Science Dean’s Carer Fellowship, $25,000

Graham, B.M., Li, S.H., Lloyd, A. (2018). Are women with chronic fatigue syndrome ovary-acting: the role of ovarian hormones in post-exertional exacerbation of fatigue symptoms. The Mason Foundation National Medical Program Grant, $100,000

Graham, B.M., Li, S.H., Newby, J.M., Lloyd, A. (2017). Menstrual cycle phase influence on symptom severity in women with chronic fatigue syndrome. The Mason Foundation National Medical Program Grant, $98,287

Graham, B.M. (2016). Motherhood alters fear extinction in female rats. UNSW Goldstar Grant, $40,000

Graham, B.M., Richardson R. (2016). Fibroblast growth factor-2: a novel means of fighting fear? UNSW Faculty of Science Silverstar Grant, $35,000

Graham, B.M., Richardson R. (2015). Fibroblast growth factor-2: a novel means of fighting fear? UNSW Goldstar Grant, $40,000

Westbrook, R.F., Richardson, R., Graham, B.M. (2015). UNSW Major Research Equipment and Infrastructure Initiative Grant, $144,094

Graham, B.M. (2014-2017).The regulation of fearful emotions: novel insights from the female brain. Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award, $395,220

Graham, B.M. (2014-2017).Sex hormones and fear inhibition: a novel exploration of why women are so vulnerable to anxiety disorders. MQ: Transforming Mental Health Foundation Fellowship, $351,070

Richardson, R., Graham, B.M., McNally, G.P., and Killcross, S.(2014).UNSW Major Research Equipment and Infrastructure Initiative Grant, $154,179

Graham, B.M. (2013). The impact of sex hormones on the inhibition of fearful memories. UNSW Early Career Research Grant, $20,000

Graham, B.M. (2010). Neurological Fellowship from the American Australian Association to undertake postdoctoral research at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, $25,000 USD


My Qualifications

PhD; Masters of Clinical Psychology


My Awards

2020: Aubrey Lewis Award from Biological Psychiatry Australia

2016: Awarded a “NSW Young Tall Poppy Science Award” from the Australian Institute of Policy and Science

2015: Named an Association for Psychological Science “Rising Star”

2011: Awarded the 2011 Excellent PhD Thesis in Psychology Award by the Science Academia and Research Advisory Group of the Australian Psychological Society

View less

Location

Contact

+61-2-9065 9703