Martin Lewis

Neuropsychiatric Laboratory of Mental Health Disorders

  • 517 Citations
  • 12 h-Index
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PhD training included classical biochemical assays, protein purification, and proteomic analysis in the field of lysosomal storage disorders.  Subsequent postdoctoral cell biology research on the tumour suppressor protein VHL examined the molecular mechanisms by which this E3 ubiquitin ligase functioned in a protein complex required for degradation of the hypoxic inducible factors.  A lecturing position in Pharmaceutical Biotecnology ensued for eighteen months.

Joining an ARC centre for the Molecular Genetics of Development, and then the Stroke Research Programme, research focused on the neuronal transcription factor Npas4.  This brain specific gene regulator is induced following traumas including seizure or cerebral ischaemia. Studies investigating this gene involved several models: morpholino injections into zebrafish embryos; neuronal differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells; and an Npas4 knockout mouse.  These models enabled data on morphological and gene expression changes, and behavioural consequences of reduced Npas4 expression following stress.

Characterisation of depression-like behaviour in Npas4 null mice lead to research in pre-clinical models of depression.  In 2014, Martin Lewis joined the Mind & Brain Theme at the South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute.

Research Interests

Understanding the biology and mechanisms by which chronic psychological stress leads to Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). 

Investigation of biomarkers identified in human gene-wide associations studies (GWAS) and pre-clinical models of chronic stress.  We aim to identify the roles played by these genes, proteins and molecules in depression and related illnesses.

Spinal injury lags far behind, heart attack and stroke in terms of prognostic and diagnostic tools. We aim for more informative imaging methods using novel tracers to further our understanding of both acute and chronic spinal injuries.  New knowledge will better inform the timing and type of therapeutic interventions.

The pathophysiology of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is currently unclear.  We aim to characterise the biological changes that have occurred to explain and better treat this condition.

Enhancing Recovery Following Stroke Through Npas4 Activation.  Npas4 is a neuronal transcription factor involved in neural development and cellular differentiation of stems cells into neurons.  Npas4 also plays a role in response to cerebral insults such as stroke or seizure.


Education / Academic qualification

Bachelor's Degree (Honours), Flinders University

PhD, University of Adelaide

External positions

Affiliate Senior Lecturer, College of Medicine and Public Health, Flinders University

2014 → …


  • Q Science (General)
  • Neuroscience
  • Neuronal disorders
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology
  • Proteomics
  • Biochemistry
  • R Medicine (General)
  • Mental Health
  • Chronic Stress
  • Major Depression
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Spinal Injury
  • Ischaemic stroke

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Research Output 1993 2018

3 Citations

Alterations in anxiety and social behaviour in Npas4 deficient mice following photochemically-induced focal cortical stroke

Klarić, T. S., Jaehne, E. J., Koblar, S. A., Baune, B. T. & Lewis, M. D. 1 Jan 2017 In : Behavioural Brain Research. 316, p. 29-37 9 p.

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

Antidepressants Restore the Long-Lasting Effects of Stress on Body Weight, and Those Effects are Associated With Leptin Levels

Wong, M-L., Lee, S., Vincent, A., Lewis, M., Mastronardi, C. A. & Licinio, J. 5 Dec 2017

Research output: ResearchPoster

Major Depression is Associated with Rare Variants in the PHF21B Gene, a Modulator of the Stress Response in Rodents

Licinio, J., Arcos-Burgos, M., Liu, S., Velez, J., Baune, B. T., Jawahar, M. C., Arolt, V., Dannlowski, U., Chuah, A., Huttley, G. A., Fogarty, R., Lewis, M., Bornstein, S. & Wong, M-L. 1 Nov 2017 p. S549 1 p.

Research output: Research - peer-reviewPoster