Academic Unit of Infant, Child, Adolescent Psychiatry South West Sydney (AUCS) - Staff

Current Staff

Professor Valsamma Eapen, MBBS., Phd., FRCPsych., FRANZCP - Research Interests

Professor Eapen is a clinical academic at UNSW.

As a Child Psychiatrist with special expertise in neurodevelopmental disorders, her research interests include Tourette Syndrome, Autism, and ADHD. Other areas of research include neurobiological underpinnings of attachment and separation anxiety disorder as well as Metabolic Syndrome in adolescents. As an experienced psychiatrist, Eapen brings to the team her unique skills and knowledge in the assessment and measurement of mental health and development during childhood. She is known internationally for her expertise in normal and abnormal developmental trajectory and its application in clinical research.

She has led longitudinal studies, including a birth cohort study of barriers and enablers to developmental surveillance and has this year initiated recruitment for another birth cohort study funded by NHMRC to examine the developmental trajectory of psychopathology from birth to three years. She is a collaborator on international consortiums such as the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation Genetics Collaborative and the Autism Homozygosity Mapping Collaborative. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the International Neuropsychiatric Association (INA), Founding Member of the Australasian Society for Autism Research (ASfAR); Member of the bi-national committee of the Australia New Zealand Society of Social psychiatry, Scientific Advisor to Rett Syndrome Association, India, Professional Expert for the Tourette Syndrome Association Australia, Member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Ingham Health Research Institute, Member of the Reference Group for the KU Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre, and a voluntary Member of the Board of Directors for the Karitane Services. She serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal “Autism Research and Treatment” and is a reviewer for several other journals. She is a member of the Cochrane Developmental, Psychosocial and Learning Problems Group and is a Sentinel Reader for the McMaster Online Rating of Evidence. As a clinician researcher, she has consistently demonstrated the ability to translate research findings into clinical practice.

She is part of major research collaborations receiving a total of $34,857,863 in competitive research funding including three NHMRC project grants, a CRE, an NHMRC partnership grant, Government and philanthropic grants, and Stream Director for “Early Life Determinants of Health’ Clinical Academic group in the Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise (21 million in funding), an NHMRC accredited Advanced Health Research and Translation Centre; over 1 million through supervision/mentorship grants to junior colleagues (ARC, NHMRC and Rotary Fellows). She has authored over 305 peer reviewed publications including 6 books, and 30 chapters. She is the lead investigator on an NHMRC funded Partnership Grant on Universal surveillance and early identification of developmental disorders, an ARC linkage grant on Separation anxiety in pregnancy and the associations with oxytocin release, attachment styles and mother-infant interactions, as well as the Child and Family Outcomes Strategy project funded by the Common wealth government to build national evidence base on early intervention in autism. She also has lead an investigation to evaluate a health promotion and lifestyle intervention program for weight gain and metabolic side effects of antipsychotic agents in adolescent inpatients.

Dr Stephen Matthey, PhD

Senior Principal Researcher

Stephen is an adjunct A/Prof in the School of Psychiatry. I am a Senior Clinical Psychologist, and researcher, for the Infant, Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service based at Liverpool Hospital, Sydney. I gained my undergraduate psychology degree from England; my Clinical Masters degree, as well as my Ph.D., from the University of Sydney.

I have published around 90 papers in peer-reviewed journals (not ‘pay-to-publish’ journals) on a range of topics, including: child and adult treatment; educational psychology; cross-cultural psychology; perinatal mental health; psychological assessment; questionnaire development; statistics; brain injury; fathers; parenting programs, and the evaluation of clinical services.

I am also passionate about playing soccer, riding my m’bike, and attempting to play the violin!

Dr Ping I (Daniel) Lin, MD, PhD, MHS 

Dr. Lin is an epidemiologist and board-certified psychiatrist. He has more than 15 years of experience in conducting clinical and genomic studies. As a physician scientist, he has combined his quantitative research skills and biomedical knowledge in the area of neuropsychiatry to study mechanisms underlying clinical heterogeneous. His research findings have led to the discovery of various types of genetic markers for clinical heterogeneity in bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In addition, he has published the first report of the association between extended homozygous haplotypes and the language delay in autism spectrum disorder. As of now, he has served as a principal investigator or co-investigator (CI) for 10 externally funded projects. Most of these projects are focused on psychiatric disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder.

Dr. Lin also has 6 years of experience in processing other types of data, such as eye-tracking and neuroimaging measurements related to neurocognitive functions – which have shed novel insights into intermediate phenotypes related to psychiatric diagnoses. His recent efforts have also been devoted to the analysis of epigenomic data using machine learning algorithms. These experiences have provided a strong foundation for his knowledge and skills in multi-factor high-dimensionality data analysis, which is a key research strategy for mental health research. Furthermore, Dr. Lin has been successfully funded to conduct a 5-year pragmatic clinical trial on adolescent suicides by collaborating with four medical centers in the U.S.A. He has been in charge of statistical modeling for this clinical trial to evaluate heterogeneous treatment responses. Taken together, Dr. Lin’s skills and qualifications will enable him to contribute meaningfully to this MRFF project.  


Antonio Mendoza Diaz

Early career researcher in child mental health systems with expertise in participatory research to involve the “voices” of young people through his current work facilitating the Youth Advisory Council in South West Sydney.


Dr Christa Lam Cassertari, PhD

Christa Lam-Cassettari is a Senior Research Associate in the School of Psychiatry, UNSW, Academic Unit of Child Psychiatry South West Sydney (AUCS), and Clinical Trial Coordinator for an NHMRC funded partnerships project awarded to Professor Valsamma Eapen and colleagues entitled Watch Me Grow Integrated Approach – WMG-I: Changing practice to improve universal child health and developmental surveillance in the primary care setting. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness and economic cost of the Watch Me Grow – Integrated (WMG-I) intervention and to explore stakeholder and community requirements of child developmental checks in the preschool years.  
Previous roles include a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Nottingham/NIHR Biomedical Research Unit conducting a Phase 1 Randomised Control Trial investigating the effect of a video-feedback intervention on parent–child communication in the context of congenital child hearing loss; a Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Foundation funded Research Fellowship at Western Sydney University, The MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development BabyLab examining the relationship between vocal emotion in parents' infant-directed speech and early word learning in Sweden and Australia. Christa was the interim Academic Leader BabyLab 2018-2020. Research interests include: quantitative and qualitative differences in infant-directed speech (IDS) input and the role of IDS in supporting early language, emotional availability and social-emotional development in children from 0-5 years of age; similarities and differences in emotional expression and parent-child interactions with mothers and fathers; the effect of postnatal depression on parent-child communication; and the role of family centered early interventions in improving child outcomes. Lam-Cassettari obtained her PhD examining the influence of infant hearing loss on mother-infant interaction: Implications for infant-directed speech, infant responsiveness and vocabulary development. She holds an Adjunct Fellowship at The MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development. 

Teresa Winata, B.Med.Sc, M.B.M.Sc, M.P.H. 

Ms Teresa Winata  is an early career clinical and public health researcher with a demonstrated experience and interest working in implementation research in the health and clinical services, spanning from fields including quality and safety, medical oncology, mental health, dementia and now child psychiatry. She is passionate in public health and clinical research, and how implementation research can be translated into clinical practice, and how healthcare organisations/providers can deliver safe and quality health outcomes through evidence-based practice and policies. Teresa has a background in medical science, neuroscience and public health, and is skilled in conducting research using various methodologies such as clinical trials, quantitative, qualitative and epidemiological research methods. She is currently a Senior Research Officer at the Infant Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (ICAMHS) based in Liverpool Hospital working and coordinating multiple child psychiatry research projects, and is currently the project manager for a NSW Health COVID-19 grant ‘Watch Me Grow weblink for development and wellbeing’ project. Teresa’s expertise and project management skills are instrumental in bringing all stakeholders involved to drive and achieve common research goals and interests.   


Feroza Khan

Research Assistant

Feroza Khan joined the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in June 2012. She is currently working as a Research Assistant for the Academic Unit of Child Psychiatry SWS, for the “Mother- Baby Oxytocin Study” project based at the Infant, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service at Liverpool Hospital. The study is investigating maternal well being, mother and child bonding, prevalence of Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder (ASAD) and the risk factors associated with postnatal depression.

Feroza completed her Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Western Sydney, NSW. Prior to this, she worked as a doctor overseas and has also worked locally at the Cancer Council NSW and UNSW for various projects.

As a research assistant at UNSW, she contributed her knowledge and skills for a study called “NSW Drug and Alcohol Consultation Liaison Evaluation”. The aim of the project was to find out how useful the Drug and Alcohol Service is, in improving the health of patients who may have a drug and alcohol problem. She also worked for another study called “Quit In General Practice”. The aim was to find out the most effective form of help that general practice can provide to patients who smoke and want to quit.

Tara Shine

Research Associate

Tara Shine is a Research Associate at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), in addition to working with children with autism as a senior therapist. She holds an MSc by Research and a degree in Applied Psychology (Hons) from the University College Cork, Ireland. Tara graduated with a first class honours degree and received the title of “College Scholar” in acknowledgement of her University results. Tara has previously worked as an Applied Behavioural Analysis Tutor in Ireland where she developed an interest in early intervention and outcomes for children with autism. In her role at UNSW, Tara is primarily involved in the Child and Family Outcomes Strategy project funded by the Commonwealth Government to build a national evidence base on early intervention in autism. Tara has previously volunteered in a range of community services in Ireland including Cork Mental Health Association and Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland as well as acting Vice Auditor of St. Vincent de Paul Society, Cork, Ireland.

Conjoint Academic Staff (UNSW) and Collaborators

Prof Bryanne Barnett, MBChB, FRANZCP, MD - Conjoint Professor/ Deputy Director of the ‘beyondblue’ Perinatal Mental Health Plan

Research interests: Perinatal and Infant Mental Health

Professor Bryanne Barnett is a psychiatrist whose clinical and research work bridges the interface between adult and child psychiatry. She has a doctoral degree from the University of New South Wales. Her thesis concerned the effects of maternal anxiety on mothering, the developing infant and the mother-infant relationship. It included the first attachment research undertaken in Australia. She has published extensively on anxiety and depressive disorders and their effects on parenting. Subsequent clinical and research work has focused on supporting women and their families during pregnancy and postpartum and she has set up a number of attachment-based services to address these early intervention and prevention issues.

Bryanne currently holds a conjoint Professorial position at UNSW, where she previously held Australia’s first Chair of Perinatal and Infant Psychiatry. She has also held many College positions, presided over national and international societies and worked closely with “beyondblue”, the national depression initiative.

Dr Rajeev Jairam, MBBS FRANZCP MD Cert child Psych
 - Conjoint Senior Lecturer/Medical Director of Gna Ka Lun Adolescent Mental Health Unit

Rajeev is a child and adolescent psychiatrist, the director of Gna Ka Lun Adolescent Mental Health Unit and a senior lecturer (conjoint) with the University of New South Wales and University of Western Sydney.

He has participated and presented in a number of conferences and has extensive research interest in a number of areas within child and adolescent psychiatry including mood disorders. His MD thesis was on the short term outcome of bipolar disorder in children and adolescents and he has conducted one of the few long term outcome studies in this area. He has had over 20 publications including original articles, reviews and book chapters in peer reviewed literature. He is a reviewer for several journals and is actively involved in teaching and examining medical students in UNSW, UWS and basic and advanced trainees with RANZCP.

Dr Alex Apler - 
MBBS, LLB, MSc, FRANZCP, Cert Child Psych

Dr Apler is an adult, child and family psychiatrist working in the child and adolescent mental health service at Park House, Liverpool Hospital. He is enrolled in a PhD programme at the UNSW, researching in the area of adult separation anxiety in pregnancy.

Dr Pravin Dullur - 
Conjoint Lecturer/Consultant Child Psychiatrist

Pravin is a Child and adolescent Psychiatrist who works as a Staff Specialist in the Gna Ka Lun Adolescent mental health inpatient unit. He is a conjoint lecturer with the Universities of NSW and Western Sydney.

He has participated and presented in a number of conferences. His research interests include mood disorders, metabolic syndrome in adolescents and problem internet use. He has a passion for teaching. He runs the teaching program at Gna Ka Lun and oversees training of medical students posted. He also runs RANZCP exam training sessions for Campbelltown based Psychiatry registrars. He has been a reviewer for various journals. In his spare time, he enjoys chess and crosswords."

Dr. Mukesh Prabhuswamy- Conjoint Senior Lecturer/Consultant Child Psychiatrist

Mukesh is a Staff Specialist-Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist working at the adolescent mental health inpatient unit Gna Ka Lun, Campbelltown and ICAMHS in SWSLHD and a senior lecturer (conjoint) with the University of New South Wales and University of Western Sydney.
Mukesh has over 9 years of experience as a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist both overseas and in Australia doing clinical work, research and teaching. He has over 10 publications in Child and Adolescent mental health. He has received two international awards for work in Child and Adolescent Mental Health. His areas of interest include school related mental health issues, anxiety disorders, developmental disorders including autism and Paediatric psychopharmacology. He regularly reviews articles for international journals and is also one of the Review Editors for the Frontiers in Child and Neurodevelopmental Psychiatry.



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