Associate Professor Sheree Cairney

Academic Status

College of Medicine and Public Health

place Flinders Medical Centre
PO Box 4066, Alice Springs 0871, Northern Territory

Creating a unique nexus between drugs, culture and the brain, Sheree Cairney has worked as a Neuroscientist in remote Aboriginal communities for 17 years. Her research has shed light on the transformation of brain and behaviour that happens-with petrol sniffing, alcohol and other drugs-and led to ground-breaking clinical evidence the brain can repair itself if substance abuse stops early enough. She established culturally relevant assessments of brain function, mental health and wellbeing among Aboriginal people, and her research has been translated into interactive multimedia tools that communicate health and education messages to diverse demographics. These include the 'Brain Stories' suite of flipcharts and animations and the highly successful ‘No Smokes’ multimedia campaign. She now leads a national longitudinal study on wellbeing in remote Aboriginal communities, ‘The Interplay Project’. A dedicated change-maker, Sheree is passionate about using knowledge, innovation, humour and empowerment strategies to impact policy, culture and humanity. She is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Remote Health, Flinders University in Alice Springs, and a Principle Research Leader at Ninti One Ltd.

Interplay Project:

No Smokes:

Brain Stories:

Addiction Animation:

(others including with translations into different Aboriginal languages available from Brain Stories link above)

Diploma of Project Management, Australian Institute of Management, 2011.
PhD, La Trobe University & Menzies School of Health Research, 2003.
Batchelor of Applied Science (Honours), Swinburne University, 1999.
Batchelor of Applied Science (Medical Biophysics and Instrumentation), 1999.
Honours, awards and grants
Scholarship for Secondment to Brown University, Rhode Island (USA), Australian Academy of Science, 2009.
Science Media Fellowship at Ultimo, ABC, Australian Academy of Science, 2005.
Postdoctoral Fellowship, National Health and Medical Research Council, 2004.
Supervisory interests
APY lands, socio-cultural
Aboriginal education
Aboriginal health
Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing
Aboriginal social determinants of health
Brain and cognitive function
Cognitive neuroscience
Emotional and behavioural problems
Neurological rehabilitation
Science communication
Social media, multimedia and health communication
Higher degree by research supervision
Principal supervisor: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing (1)