Our goals

  • Developing and optimising novel treatments for depression and other mental health conditions (e.g., new forms of transcranial electrical stimulation, ECT, ketamine, and psychedelic-assisted therapies).
  • Investigating new non-invasive brain stimulation modalities for cognitive enhancement and treatment of cognitive impairment.
  • Improving understanding of the pathophysiology and characteristics of psychiatric disorders using electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  • Translating research findings into clinical practice and policy.

Key themes & projects

Clinical trials and interventional studies

We conducted the first randomised controlled trials of TMS (1999), tDCS (2010), ketamine (2014),  ECT (2014) and tRNS (2020) in Australia, for the treatment of depression. We also conducted the world’s first randomised controlled trials testing bilateral TMS and multiple TMS sessions per day for the treatment of depression. We recently completed the world’s largest randomised controlled trials of racemic ketamine for treatment resistant depression, and developed a comprehensive framework for monitoring the safety of ketamine treatment (the Ketamine Side Effect Tool). Our research findings have informed Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrist (RANZCP) guidelines on ECT, TMS, tDCS and ketamine treatment.

Our current clinical studies include:

  • The Randomised Controlled Trial of Frontoparietal and Temporoparietal ECT for Severe Depression: The RAFT ECT Study, led by Prof Colleen Loo.
  • The Trial of Enhanced Neurostimulation for Anorexia (TRENA), led by Dr Donel Martin.
  • Treatment Resistant Depression Intervention with Psilocybin-assisted Psychotherapy (TRIP), led by Dr Michael Millard and co-led by Dr Jonathan Brett, Dr Adam Bayes, Prof Colleen Loo.


Clinical Alliance and Research in ECT and related treatments (CARE) Network

Co-leads: Prof Colleen Loo & Dr Donel Martin

The CARE Network is an international collaboration involving >50 hospitals aimed at improving clinical practice and furthering research in ECT, TMS, tDCS and ketamine treatments, via the use of a standardised data collection framework. The CARE data collection framework assists services with improving clinical care and complying with data collection requirements. Collation and analysis of these real-world clinical data also produces findings that inform treatment guidelines and translation of research into clinical practice.

Resources developed by the CARE Network:

Learn More


Neuroscience research

Lead: Dr Stevan Nikolin. Co-lead: Dr Adriano Moffa

We undertake diverse research in basic neuroscience to improve non-invasive brain stimulation techniques and their therapeutic application in neuropsychiatric conditions.

Current projects include:

  • Developing concurrent TMS and EEG as a technique to understand the effects of brain stimulation, including initiating the TMS-EEG Collaboration, an international cooperative network of researchers to facilitate data sharing and collaboration
  • Investigating the roles of key brain regions (e.g., prefrontal and inferior frontal cortices, pre-supplementary motor area, cerebellum) in modulating central executive functions using brain stimulation, cognitive tasks and EEG.
  • Optimising transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) parameters using cognitive tasks and EEG.
  • Developing a novel approach for targeting the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex for transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) based on performance outcomes of a cognitive task.
  • Computational modelling for investigating effects of brain stimulation, in collaboration with UNSW Biomedical Engineering

Contact for further information: Dr Donel Martin or Dr Stevan Nikolin


Neurocognition research

Lead: Dr Donel Martin

We develop novel interventions for cognitive enhancement and for treating cognitive impairment.

Current projects include:

  • Individualising rTMS for cognitive enhancement
  • Investigating methods to enhance the cognitive effects of brain stimulation therapies
  • Investigating the cognitive enhancing effects of psychedelics

Contact for further information: Dr Donel Martin

Our education courses for clinicians and researchers

Training courses in Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Ketamine and Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS)

Designed for clinicians and researchers, the courses are facilitated by leading experts in neurostimulation and mood disorders, Professor Colleen Loo and the Sydney Neurostimulation and Ketamine Program team. For more information visit our page at the Black Dog Institute.

Research strengths

Integrated and multidisciplinary – working across the UNSW Discipline of Psychiatry & Mental Health and the Black Dog Institute, our team comprises of researchers with expertise in clinical psychiatry, neuropsychology, basic neuroscience, clinical trials, and clinical policy/practice.

Established partnerships – our research projects involve close collaboration with clinicians and researchers in Australia and internationally. Some of our regular collaborators include The George Institute for Global Health and Ramsay Northside Clinic.

Research facilities – we have access to hospital facilities for clinical research and a multimodal research lab integrating brain stimulation, EEG, neuro-navigation, and neuro-imaging facilities.

Supervisory experience - ILP, Honours, Master and PhD students.

Our Team

Clinical Psychiatrist and Professor of Psychiatry Prof Colleen Loo
Clinical Psychiatrist and Professor of Psychiatry



Donel Martin headshot
Senior Clinical Neuropsychologist and Academic Researcher



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Adam Bayes headshot
Psychiatrist and Clinical Academic



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Stevan Nikolin headshot
Neuroscience Fellow



Dusan profile
Senior Research Fellow



  • Dr Angelo Alonzo 

    Vanessa Dong

    Ana Rita Barreiros

  • Kate Haldane 

    Vinh Cao 

    Lou Brettell

  • Echo Mei Xu

    Xiaomin Xu

    Vivien Czapla

    Dr Clara Massaneda Tuneu

    Haijing Huang