Dr Simone Reppermund is a UNSW Scientia Senior Lecturer within the School of Psychiatry. Her area of research is cognitive disorders with a focus on mental health and ageing. Simone has a PhD in Psychology and worked previously in the field of depression and cognitive function at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich until 2008 before she moved to Australia. From 2008-2014 she worked as a research fellow at the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing, UNSW Australia, where she managed a large longitudinal study (Sydney Memory and Ageing Study) combining neuropsychological, medical, environmental and genetic components to identify risk factors for cognitive decline. Her research interests include depression, cognitive impairment, everyday activities in old age, successful ageing and mental health in intellectual disability.

Current research projects include:

  • Building an international geriatric depression consortium. Depression in old age is a common, disabling and costly mental health condition. One approach for understanding the aetiology of depression, informing clinical treatment and potentially preventing it lies in uncovering both the genetic and environmental determinants of the disorder as well as their interaction. The aims of this project are to build an international network of population studies on geriatric depression to: i) pool whole genome data to conduct analyses with sufficient power (increase reliability and validity of GWAS findings); ii) identify environmental risk factors, and iii) examine gene-environment interactions. A specific aim of this consortium, that differentiates from broader depression genetics consortia, is that we aim to target older-age onset depression. This project will bring together international population studies to build a rich dataset to assess the aetiology and epidemiology of geriatric depression. Geriatric depression is an under-researched area and given the increasing ageing population, it is crucial to understand the disorder and its implications in more detail to advance treatment and preventative strategies. The large international cohort can be harnessed for intervention studies in the future, thus bringing about translational change. 

  • An NHMRC funded Partnership for Better Health Project Grant entitled: Improving the Mental Health Outcomes for People with Intellectual Disability (ID). The objective of the project is to improve access to, and quality of mental health services for people with ID. Using a linked NSW Ministry of Health and Ageing, Disability & Home Care dataset, we integrate data from our Partners to develop a comprehensive profile of mental ill health and service use in people with ID. We complement our data driven approach with comprehensive analysis of policy relevant to ID mental health, to address key gaps in policy and policy development in this area. In addition, qualitative research with focus groups identifies ways to improve the recognition of mental disorders among clinical, disability and education service staff. The findings develop an evidence base to guide the development of clinical services and policy for people with ID to meet their fundamental right to quality mental health support.

  • The development of a performance-based tool to measure complex activities of daily living. Maintaining intact functional ability is an indicator of successful ageing. Instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) are complex everyday functional skills necessary for independent living, like managing medications, shopping, or handling finances. The distinction between dementia and mild cognitive impairment relies upon the evaluation of independence in IADL. Given the increasing ageing population, it is essential to have time- and resource-efficient tools to assess IADL in clinical practice and in research studies. Self- and informant reports are prone to bias and clinician-based performance tests are limited by long administration times, restricted access, or inadequate validation. We have recently developed and validated a performance-based measure of IADL, the Sydney Test of Activities of Daily Living in Memory Disorders (STAM) and are now in the process of extending the validation to international samples.
  • An NHMRC funded project to examine the determinants of health, use of health resources and costs, and the development of specific strategies to allow disability and health services to meet the health needs of people with intellectual disability (ID). The health of people with ID is one of the poorest of any group in Australia, yet they experience poor access to responsive health services and premature death.  Our project develops the first comprehensive profile of health, health service and medicines use and costs for people with ID, and will examine the impact of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) on these metrics. This is a population-based matched cohort study using data linkage of large administrative datasets. We will identify all people with ID in NSW and a matched random sample of NSW residents without ID and examine health resource use and costs over a 20-year period.


Broad Research Areas:
Mental Health, Epidemiology, Ageing, Neuropsychology, Psychiatry, Neuropsychiatry

Dipl.-Psych., PhD

Specific Research Keywords:
Depression, Mild Cognitive Impairment, Cognitive Decline, Activities of Daily Living, Health Services Research, Intellectual Disability, Knowledge Translation, Ageing