Prof Terence O'Brien MB, BS, MD, FRACP, FRCPE, FAHMS, FAES
Program Director Alfred Brain, Deputy Director of Research
Prof O'Brien is the Program Director Alfred Brain, Deputy Director of Research and Head of Neuroscience Clinical Trials Unit at The Alfred.
Prof O'Brien is a specialist in neurology and clinical pharmacology, with particular expertise in epilepsy and related brain diseases, including traumatic brain injury, brain tumours and neurodegenerative diseases, neuropharmacology and in-vivo imaging in animal models and humans.
He was formerly The University of Melbourne’s James Stewart Chair of Medicine and Head of the Department of Medicine at the Royal Melbourne Hospital (2008-17).
He leads a large translational research team focused on improving treatments for people with epilepsy and related brain diseases. Prof O’Brien’s research has two primary goals:
- To better understand the determinants of treatment response, identify biomarkers for treatment outcomes, and develop new treatment approaches.
- To investigate the fundamental neurobiological basis, and inter-relationship, of the neuropsychiatric co-morbidities present in many patients with epilepsy and neurodegenerative conditions.
He has been a principal investigator in more than 100 commercially sponsored and investigator initiated trials, and is Chair of the Australian Epilepsy Clinical Trial Network (AECTN). He published more than 395 peer-reviewed original papers in leading scientific and medical journals which have been cited around 14,000 times.
Most significant trial
The STAR 1 trial (2016-18), for which Prof O’Brien was the principal investigator, was the first double-blinded randomised control trial of a cannaboid treatment for adults with drug resistant focal epilepsy. It was also the first to trial a novel transcutaneous delivery system that avoided many of pharmacokinetic and side-effects issues with oral cannaboid treatments. The study involved 188 participants and 14 trial sites across Australia and New Zealand, coordinated by the AECTN which Prof O’Brien chairs. The results of the study showed that the treatment was well tolerated, with excellent patient compliance and acceptance, establishing the viability of the transdermal treatment approach. Continued open-labelled treatment in STAR 2 showed sustained clinically meaningful reductions after 6 and 12 months of treatment.