Dr Nadeeka Dissanayaka

NHMRC Boosting Dementia Res Fellow

UQ Centre for Clinical Research
Faculty of Medicine

Senior Research Fellow

UQ Centre for Clinical Research
Faculty of Medicine

Affiliate Research Fellow

School of Psychology
Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences
+61 7 334 66026


Dr 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 research involves multidisciplinary areas ranging from basic science (eg: pharmacology, genetics, cognitive neuroscience, neuroimaging) to clinical science and medicine (eg: psychology, psychiatry, neurology, and clinical trials).

Ageing, Mental Health, and Neurodegenerative diseases such as Dementia and Parkinson's disease are key areas of Dr 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 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: Dr 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. Dr 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, Dr 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: Dr Dissanayaka has received continuous funding via 3 competitive fellowships (including NHMRC) and 18 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, and Oustanding UQCCR PhD Supervisor Award in 2020.

Supervision: Dr Dissanayaka holds an outstanding record of supervision in disciplines of Psychology, Medicine, Biomedical Sciences, and Pharmacy, and has supervised over 80 students, 4 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: Dr 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. Dr Dissanayaka is an active member of the UQ Faculty of Medicine Low and Negligible Risk Ethics Committee, UQ Centre for Clinical Research Career Development Group, Australian Cognitive Neurosciences Society, and International Movement Disorders Society. She is a peer reviewer for >20 international journals, and an grant reviewer for NHMRC and international Parkinson's disease foundations. Dr 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, Anxiety in Parkinson's disease consortium and Parkinson's disease Mental Health and Wellbeing consortium.


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


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  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

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Available Projects

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Book Chapter

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.