Professors Licinio and Wong have been employed together almost ever since they were medical interns in Brazil.
“We make a good team. We think in different ways but we almost always converge on a common point. Our different thought processes give us an edge, I think, because we have considered so much more of the topic than we would on our own,” Professor Wong said.
It’s this strong relationship that enables them to conduct world-leading research into two of the fastest growing concerns in the developed world simultaneously.
“We work at the interface of obesity and depression,” Professor Licinio said.
“Many people don’t make the connection between these two areas, including health professionals who tend to treat one or the other – and as a result, these two areas tend to be understudied.
“Our biggest project is looking at how some people respond very well to antidepressants and others don’t, and trying to understand the genetic reasons for that.
“We are also looking at the impacts of antidepressants on body weight and body weight regulation.”
Working together at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and Flinders University, Professors Licinio and Wong are on a mission to show international researchers how important the nexus between obesity and depression is.
“We are in the midst of an obesity and depression epidemic. The rate of people on antidepressants has skyrocketed. They are two important topics that don’t operate in isolation, and we hope to be able to create the grass roots shift towards holistic management of both,” Professor Wong said.