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Graduate milestone for USC’s Thompson Institute

USC Australia celebrated a milestone in boosting the region’s expertise in mental health and neuroscience with the graduation of the first students to complete postgraduate coursework at USC’s Thompson Institute.

Among them was Michelle Stokes of Toowoomba who will become the first person to receive a Graduate Certificate of Mental Health and Neuroscience from USC.

Ms Stokes, a regional advisory teacher working with students who have disabilities, said she had thoroughly enjoyed learning from leading experts at the Institute, which is a world-class hub for research, teaching and clinical services for Australia's most pressing mental health issues.

She is now looking forward to taking her neuroscience knowledge and skills back into the classroom.

“Neuroscience is such an emerging field, but it has the ability to help us fine-tune what we are offering kids and to intervene before conditions become difficult to treat,” she said.

“If we can understand the biology of the brain and the way this affects behaviour and cognitive function, we can create an inclusive and supportive environment for all people at school, and those benefits expand to the broader community.”

Ms Stokes, who already has a Master of Human Services, said she relished working alongside the Institute’s teams for youth mental health research, healthy brain ageing research, clinical trials, clinical services, and neuroimaging.

“I didn’t want to finish because I just loved the course so much, so now I would like go on to do a doctorate,” she said.

Thompson Institute Director Professor Jim Lagopoulos said this first coursework graduation marked a milestone for the Institute, which is preparing to double in size.

“It’s a proud moment for us,” Professor Lagopoulos said. “These are our first graduates taking what they have learned from our world-class mental health experts into their careers to help their communities.

“We’ve been researching and addressing Australia’s most pressing mental health issues since 2018, but this graduation represents a complete circle of expertise, community service and education.”

The Thompson Institute is the only facility in Australia to integrate and co-locate research, clinical services and education – a unique model that enables the fast translation of research evidence into clinical practice.

As part of USC, it now offers a Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma in Mental Health and Neuroscience, as well as the chance to contribute to solving significant mental health issues through a Higher Degree by Research.

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