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1980 …2023

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Personal profile

Research interests

Professor Jennie Ponsford is the Director of the Monash-Epworth Rehabilitation Research Centre which was created in 2000. Its aim is to conduct research in trauma rehabilitation, with a view to reducing long-term disability. Over 30 psychologists and researchers are associated with the centre and form a dynamic research team. Affiliated Monash staff include A/Prof Rene Stolwyk, A/Prof Catherine Willmott, Dr Adam McKay, Dr Gershon Spitz, Dr Kate Gould,  Prof John Olver, Dr Michael Ponsford, Dr Rose Acher, Dr Pamela Ross, Dr Marina Downing, Ms Meagan Carty, Ms Amelia Hicks, Mr Jai Carmichael, Dr Lucy Ymer, Dr Laura Connolly, Dr Jessica Trevena-Peters, Dr Toni Withiel, Dr David Lawson, Dr Courtney Spiteri, Ms Elinor Fraser, Ms Sarah Carrier, Dr Jonathan Reyes, Dr Jennifer Makovec Knight, Ms Jao Carmaniti, Dr Jade Murray, Mr Jack Nguyen, Ms Kiara Corso  and A/Prof Gavin Williams.

The TAC is the largest financial supporter of the Centre, providing substantial funding for the longitudinal head injury outcome study and associated projects. Professor Ponsford is supported by an INHMRC Investigator grant 2020-2024. The NHMRC, Australian Research Council, Epworth Research Institute, Monash University, the Jack Brockhoff Foundation, William Buckland Foundation, Stroke Foundation and the Department of Human Services have also supported specific projects. The Research Centre has strong links with the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health, School of Psychological Sciences at Monash University, where Professor Ponsford is Theme Lead of the Brain Injury Rehabilitation theme and Director of Clinical Programs, convening a doctoral trianing program in clinical neuropsychology. Numerous doctoral students conduct research within the Centre.

The research being conducted by the MERRC is recognised internationally, as is evident from the significant number of invited international conference presentations made by Professor Ponsford and her associates, her election as the first Australian President of the Internaitonal Neuropsychological Society, her inclusion on panels constituted by the US Department of Defense and the World Health Organisation, her invitation to submit reviews to high profile journals such as the British Medical Journal, Current Opinion in Neurology and Nature Clinical Practice Neurology, and the calibre of its numerous journal publications.   The information booklets produced in the mild TBI outcomes studies have been requested by over 100 different clinical and research bodies worldwide and translated into several languages and used in a recent cluster randomised trial to improve Emergency Department management of mild TBI. This work is thus having a significant impact on the field. Outcome after moderate and severe traumatic brain injury has been examined in considerable breadth, in terms of psychosocial functioning, employment, cognition, coping, pain, psychiatric health, sexual functioning, and family relationships. The impact of genetic factors, age and other demogrpahic factors on outcome is a focus of study, including  cultural influences upon outcome. Developing effective management protocols have been a recent focus of hte work of the Centre, including management of patients in PTA, rehabilitation of cognitive and behavioural dysfunction, and development and evaluation of community-based models of rehabilitation. Our outcome data has highlighted the high frequency of anxiety, depression, fatigue and sleep disturbance,  sexual problems, pain and alcohol use and identified some factors associated with these problems, including coping style, which in turn has sparked further inquiry into psychiatric outcome for survivors of TBI, and psychological factors which affect functional outcome. Based on these investigations treatments have been developed and have and are being evaluaterd in world-first controlled trials focusing on anxiety and depression, fatigue and sleep disturbance, attention, memory and executive function, challenging behaviour,  sexuality and delivery of  therapy to patients in post-traumatic amnesia. 

These treatment trials have recently expanded to provide treatment for stroke patients in the domains of fatigue and sleep disturbance and memory problems, with Drs Rene Stolwyk, Dr Dana Wong   and Dr Adam McKay leading this work. Telehealth interventions and group interventions are also being evaluated.

A/Prof Catherine Willmott has expanded the Centre's work on concussion in partnership with the AFL and NHMRC, evlauting the use of accelerometers to assess head impact in football and the use of soft headgear for protection of footballers. She and Adama McKay are now leading an evaluation of a multi-modal intervention to alleviate post-tconcussinal symptoms following concussion.

Jennie Ponsford  has published over 400 journal articles and book chapters, as well as two books on the management of traumatic brain injury.  Professor Ponsford is Past-President of the International Neuropsychological Society, Past-President of the International Association for the Study of Traumatic Brain Injury and Past-President of the Australian Society for the Study of Brain Impairment (ASSBI), and currently serves currently on the Executive of the International Brain Injury Association and ASSBI. She is a member of the Editorial Board of five journals, including the Journal of NeurotraumaJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society, Brain Injury, Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, Brain Impairment  and NeuroRehabilitation

In 2013 Jennie Ponsford was awarded the Robert L. Moody prize for Distinguished Initiatives in Brain Injury and Rehabilitation, an international award made by the University of Texas Medical Branch.

In 2014 she was elected Monash Supervisor of the Year by the Monash Postgraduate Association.

In 2015 she was awarded the INS Paul Satz Career Mentoring Award.

In 2017 she was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for her distinguished contributions to neuropsychology and seminal advances in the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of patients with traumatic brain injury.

In 2018 she received the Australian Psychological Society's College of Clinical Neuropsychologists Award of Distinction

In 2019 she received the Australian Psychological Society's Rehabilitation Special Interest group award.

In 2020 she became the Dirk Bakker Visiting Professor at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, a three-year appointment.

In 2020 she was selected by 'The Australian' as the Austrlian scientist with the highest number of citations in the top journals in the field of rehabilitation therapy in the previous five years.

Monash teaching commitment

DPSY5262 - Case analysis and professional practice in neuropsychology 1

DPSY5265 - Neuropsychological syndromes

DPSY6162 - Case analysis and professional practice in neuropsychology 2

DPSY6262 - Case analysis and professional practice in neuropsychology 3

DPSY6263 - Recovery of function and rehabilitation after brain injury

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Clinical Neuropsychology, PhD, Assessment and Rehabilitation of Attentional Deficits Following Closed Head Injury, La Trobe University

BA Hons, University of Melbourne

MA (Clinical Neuropsychology), University of Melbourne

External positions

Dirk Bakker Visiting Professor, University of Mastricht, The Netherlands


Visiting Professor, Sunnaas Hospital, Oslo, Norway

2015 → …

Professor of Neuropsychology, Epworth Foundation (trading as Epworth HealthCare)

Research area keywords

  • Attention
  • Brain Imaging
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • Fatigue
  • Intervention Studies
  • Intervention, Agents for (Health/Safety/Medical)
  • Neuropsychology
  • Outcomes Research
  • Rehabilitation
  • Sleep Disturbance
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or