McGorry, Patrick

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Patrick (Pat) McGorry is Executive Director of ORYGEN Youth Health and a world-leading researcher in the area of early psychosis and youth mental health. His work has played an integral role in the development of safe, effective treatments, and he has done innovative research involving the needs of young people with emerging or first-episode psychosis. In 1991, he founded EPPIC, ORYGEN’s early psychosis service.

Pat completed his internship at the Royal Newcastle Hospital and gained some experience in general practice before embarking on an epic overland journey from Australia to the United Kingdom (via Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, the USSR and Western Europe). Arriving in Britain, he worked in locum and registrar posts in various hospitals in England and Wales. In 1980 he returned to Australia to take up the position of Medical Registrar at Royal Newcastle Hospital.

Whilst he had been overseas, the University of Newcastle had established a new medical school. It was there that he was inspired by Beverley Raphael to study. He says of this time:

Meeting Beverley Raphael again was inspirational. She had done a study on bereaved widows and was doing further work on grief and bereavement. Talking to her I began to feel that Psychiatry was something where I could make a difference. The sort of work Beverley was doing was suggesting that early intervention and diagnosis was possible and produced far better outcomes for people. The foundation Dean, David Maddison, had been the initiator of the preventative idea in Australian psychiatry. Previously the focus of care had been on treatment for people who, typically, presented for treatment very late in the development of their problems. They may have already been through the trauma of being arrested or hospitalised and, by that stage, required high levels of medication.

Beverley’s work had focused on epidemiological studies, but I was more interested in how you took those ideas and produced very practical ideas for models of practice. The idea of early diagnosis and the development of phase-specific treatments was very exciting for me.[1]

Pat began his psychiatric training and experience in 1981, working as Psychiatric Registrar at Newcastle Psychiatric Centre. In 1984, he moved to Melbourne and became Senior Registrar in Psychiatry at Royal Park Psychiatric Hospital, playing a central role in the establishment of the Aubrey Lewis Clinical Research Unit. In the following year, he also commenced a Lectureship in the Department of Psychological Medicine at Monash University. He was recruited by Bruce Singh who Pat says “gave me the opportunity to create something and demonstrated a practical ability to get things done. He taught me a toughness that I lacked in administrative and political struggles.”

From 1987 to 1993, Pat maintained his academic and hospital appointments, yet played a vital role as Associate Investigator in the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funded Schizophrenia Research Unit at Royal Park Psychiatric Hospital. His work at Royal Park has enabled him to expand his areas of professional output to include the development of programs for refugees and survivors of torture and trauma. Since 1992, he has been a Management Committee Member and Consultant Psychiatrist for the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture.

In 1992, he became Director of the Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre (EPPIC) at Parkville, whilst becoming Head of the Melbourne University Academic Unit of Royal Park Hospital.

Pat has been Professor and Director of the Centre for Young People’s Mental Health – now renamed Orygen Youth Health, the ORYGEN Research Centre since 1996. EPPIC, ORYGEN’s early psychosis service, has been hugely influential internationally, its model having been adopted by many countries including the UK. At present, ORYGEN provides clinical services to more than 700 young people at any one time, and through the Centre, is currently running 44 psychiatry research projects. Aside from research into early psychosis and youth mental health, Pat has conducted significant research in areas of psychiatry such as the mental health needs of the homeless and prisoners, treatment for refugees and torture survivors, youth suicide, youth substance abuse and the treatment of emerging personality disorder.

However, Pat says that “while we have a unique clinical research platform, the research capacity is not matched by a supporting infrastructure. We are more aware of the needs of these groups but the level of services required is not yet available. So many young people are unable to get specialised treatment or any treatment at all. This may be about to change.” As Director of ORYGEN, Pat also sees his role as that of an advocate and actively lobbies government agencies, politicians and bureaucrats for changes in mental health policy and service provision.

His research has been published in refereed international journals such as the Archives of General Psychiatry, Lancet, American Journal of Psychiatry, Schizophrenia Bulletin, Schizophrenia Research, Biological Psychiatry, The Medical Journal of Australia, The British Medical Journal, The British Journal of Psychiatry, Psychological Medicine and Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica.

He is a member of the Victorian Government Ministerial Advisory Committee on Mental Health, and is currently the President of the International Early Psychosis Association, an Executive Board Member of the International Society for Psychological Treatments in Schizophrenia and Related Psychoses, and a member of the Committee of the Section on Schizophrenia of the World Psychiatric Association. He was Deputy Chair of the Victorian Postgraduate Training Committee of the RANZCP (2004–5), and was elected as General Councillor of the RANZCP in 2005.

Pat has received numerous awards for his work: In 1991, he was awarded the RANZCP/Organon Junior Research Award for significant research contributions in the early phase of his career and then the RANZCP/Organon Senior Research Award in 1998. Research and clinical programs he has developed have also received a number of awards, including the 1994 Gold Australia and New Zealand Mental Health Services Achievement Award, the 1995 SAPMEA Best Program Award for the PACE Clinic and two Silver Australia and New Zealand Mental Health Service Achievement Awards in 1997, also for the PACE Clinic. He was presented the Founders Medal of the Australian Society for Psychiatric Research at the 2001 ASPR Annual Scientific Meeting and the Centenary Medal from the Australian Government in 2003.

Pat remains Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and an Honorary Professorial Fellow in the School of Behavioural Science, both at the University of Melbourne.[1]

Citation: Mellor, Lise (2008) McGorry, Patrick. Faculty of Medicine Online Museum and Archive, University of Sydney.

An alternate version appears in: Mellor, L. 150 Years, 150 Firsts: The People of the Faculty of Medicine (2006) Sydney, Sydney University Press.