Associate Professor Nadeeka Dissanayaka

Principal Research Fellow

UQ Centre for Clinical Research
Faculty of Medicine

NHMRC Boosting Dementia Res Fellow

UQ Centre for Clinical Research
Faculty of Medicine
+61 7 334 66026


Associate Professor Nadeeka Dissanayaka is a NHMRC Boosting Dementia Research Leadership Fellow leading the Dementia & Neuro Mental Health Research Unit at the University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research. She is an affiliate research fellow at School of Psychology, UQ, and Department of Neurology, Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital. Her expertise include multidisciplinary areas ranging from basic science (eg: pharmacology, genetics, cognitive neuroscience, neuroimaging) to clinical science and medicine (eg: psychology, psychiatry, neurology, clinical trials and implementation science).

Ageing, Mental Health, and Neurodegenerative diseases such as Dementia and Parkinson's disease are key areas of A/Prof. Dissanayaka's research. Her primary research themes include:

1. Evaluation and Treatment of Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms in Dementia (BPSD), with a special focus on anxiety and depression.

2. Development of a Mental Health Benchmarking Industry Specific Tool for Residential Aged Care (MHICare Project)

3. Pychotherapeutic Interventions including artificial intelligence, virtual reality and telehealth guided by biofeedback systems for persons with cognitive impairment and Parkinson's disease

4. Neuropsychiatric Manifestations in Parkinson's disease including anxiety, depression, cognitive dysfunction, sleep and impulse control disorders.

5. Neurobiological Underpinnings of Cognitive and Emotional Impairment in Dementia and Parkinson's disease (neuroimaging studies) and drug repurposing.

Research Interests

  • New diagnostic methods to identify anxiety in dementia and Parkinson's disease
  • Neuroimaging (EEG and fMRI) and psychophysiological markers
  • New psychological treatments using innovative technologies such as telehealth, virtual reality and mobile phones
  • Novel psychosocial interventions in residential aged care facilities
  • Adverse effects of pharmacological treatment including prescription of psychotropic medication in elderly

Research Impacts

Research Output: A/Prof Dissanayaka is the principal investigator of the Mental Health Benchmarking Industry Tool for Residential Aged Care (MHICare), Improving Diagnosis and Treatment of Anxiety in Parkinson’s disease (IDATA-PD), Technology assisted Psychotherapy for residential aged care (Tech-VR AgedCare), Parkinson's disease (VRAPD/ Tech-CBT-PD) and dementia (Tech-CBT-Dementia), and Uncovering a Therapeutic Marker to Reduce the Risk of Dementia in Parkinson's disease (TRIP) . She is the developer of a new Parkinson’s disease-specific anxiety inventory (PDSAI) and co-author of 5 new psychotherapy manuals including technology assisted cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness therapy. A/Prof. Dissanayaka is the first author of the top cited publication for “Anxiety in Parkinson’s disease” for the past 10 years (Scopus), an author of book chapters titled “Anxiety in Parkinson’s disease” in “Anxiety in Older People: Clinical and Research Perspectives” (Cambridge Press), and "Progressive Neurologocal Conditions and Their Impact on Psychological Well-being in Later Life", and a lead collaborator of the international working groups focused on anxiety in Parkinson’s disease and MRI in Parkinson's disease. Despite part-time (0.6FTE) work due to carer responsibility, A/Prof. Dissanayaka’s publications record over the past 10 years places her in the top 10% of the Associate Professors in the relevant field of Psychology according to the Go8 Universities productivity and citations.

Grants and Awards: A/Prof. Dissanayaka has received continuous funding via 3 competitive fellowships (including NHMRC) and 22 competitive research grants (91% lead investigator). Her grant record includes international awards such as the prestigious NARSAD Young Investigator International award 2018 from the United States Brain & Behaviour Research Foundation. She is also a recipient of 2 Outstanding Young Researcher Awards in 2013 and 2015, Oustanding UQCCR PhD Supervisor Award in 2020, and the Faculty of Medicine Future Leaders Award in 2021.

Supervision: A/Prof. Dissanayaka holds an outstanding record of supervision in disciplines of Psychology, Medicine, Biomedical Sciences, and Pharmacy, and has supervised over 90 students, 6 postdocs and 7 Research assistants. Under her primary supervision, 20 students completed research thesis (3 PhD, 8 DPsyc, 3 MPsyc and 6 Honours) and >40 Psychology Advanced Trainees within research capacity.

Community Engagement and Professional Involvement: A/Prof. Dissanayaka is an author of >140 conference abstracts, >50 invited seminars, and >20 media reports. She is an advocate for the Lions Medical Research Foundation, and Royal Brisbane & Woman's Hospital Foundation. A/Prof. Dissanayaka was a member of the UQ Low and Negligible Risk Ethics Committee, and UQCCR Career Development Committee. She is deputy chair of the UQCCR Research Committee. She established and currently leads the UQCCR Consumer & Communittee Involvement (CCI) Committee, and also a member of the Faculty of Medicine CCI group. A/Prof. Dissanayaka is the current chair of the Dementia Centre for Research Collaboration Anxiety and Depression in Dementia Research Network, and co-chair of the Australian Dementia Network (ADNet) Early/ Mid career researcher Accelerator group. Her international recognition is supported by the leadership in Parkinson's disease MRI consortium, and Anxiety in Parkinson's disease consortium. She is a current member of the Australian Cognitive Neurosciences Society, and International Movement Disorders Society, a peer reviewer for >20 journals, and a grant reviewer for NHMRC.


  • Bachelor of Science (Honours), The University of Queensland
  • Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Queensland


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Available Projects

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Book Chapter

  • Dissanayaka, N. N. W. (2021). Anxiety in Parkinson’s disease. Anxiety in older people: clinical and research perspectives. (pp. 139-156) edited by Gerard J. Byrne and Nancy A. Pachana. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

  • Dissanayaka, N. N. W. (2019). Progressive Neurological Conditions and Their Impact on Psychological Well-Being in Later Life. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Psychology. (pp. 1-12) Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190236557.013.413

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.