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Prominent businessman and investor James Packer, jointly with The Packer Family Foundation, has made a $7 million gift that will substantially transform mental health research at UNSW Sydney with the establishment of the James Packer Chair in Mood Disorders.

The Professorial Chair will lead a new unit at UNSW and the Mindgardens Neuroscience Network that will conduct rigorous research in mental health, with a particular focus on mood disorders such as bipolar disease. The gift will also fund a team of researchers to support the Chair.

Mindgardens is the first research centre in Australia to focus exclusively on disorders that involve the brain, emotions, nervous system and thinking processes.


Businessman and investor James Packer, along with the Packer Family Foundation, has donated $7 million to UNSW Sydney to advance mental health research. Photo: Supplied.

“It is no secret that I have struggled with mental health problems in the past,” Mr Packer said. “I am a passionate advocate of finding ways to improve mental health outcomes and I am hopeful that my contribution towards this research will generate positive outcomes in this field and in so doing significantly improve the lives of people battling mental health issues both in Australia and around the world.”

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The UNSW Discipline of Psychiatry and Mental Health, which recently celebrated its 60-year anniversary, is widely renowned as the pre-eminent psychiatry research department in the country and one of the leading university psychiatry research groups internationally.

UNSW is also home to an outstanding mental health community through the Mindgardens Neuroscience Network at the Randwick Health & Innovation Precinct which includes NeuRA, the Black Dog Institute, the Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick and Royal Women’s Hospital.

Professor Attila Brungs, Vice-Chancellor and President of UNSW Sydney, said the gift will support collaborative research and drive meaningful change in an increasingly vital field of health care.    

“Research changes people's lives. We appreciate James Packer's generous donation, which will enable UNSW researchers to develop new treatments and interventions for people experiencing mental health disorders. Mental health is a pressing global challenge, and this gift will help us make real progress in this critical area of research.”

UNSW Medicine & Health Dean, Professor Vlado Perkovic, said the gift will transform mental health research at UNSW and accelerate initiatives that will save lives in Australia and across the globe.

“This exceptional gift will enable UNSW researchers and its partners in the Mindgardens Network to dramatically accelerate mental health research in mood disorders and conditions that impact millions of people in Australia and around the world,” Professor Perkovic said. “This new Chair will lead the way in transforming the understanding, prevention, treatment and cure of these important disorders and offers hope to affected individuals and their families.”