Spotlight on Dr Ye Tian – Mapping the terra incognita of our brains

Congratulations to the Department of Psychiatry’s Dr Ye Tian who has won numerous prizes and awards for her PhD research published in Nature Neuroscience co-authored with Professors Daniel Margulies (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), Michael Breakspear (University of Newcastle) and Andrew Zalesky (University of Melbourne).

A multiscale group-consensus parcellation atlas derived from 3T-rfMRI acquired in 1,080 healthy adults
A multiscale group-consensus parcellation atlas derived from 3T-rfMRI acquired in 1,080 healthy adults

In recent months, Dr Tian has received first prize in the Mendelsohn Student Award 2020, which recognizes excellence in neuroscience research and is open to doctoral students at the University of Melbourne and affiliated institutes. She also received first prize in the Victorian Biomedical Imaging Capability (VBIC) Early Researcher Award 2020. The VBIC Early Researcher Award recognises excellence in biomedical imaging research and is open to doctoral students anydearly career researchers in Victoria. The inaugural award was presented to Ye by Victoria’s Lead Scientists, Dr Amanda Caples.

Dr Tian was also a finalist in the 2020 Melbourne Medical School Student Publication Prizes and presented her work at the school research symposium in November. Dr Tian graduated from medical school in 2013 at the Sichuan University, China, and then completed her medical internship in psychiatry at Peking University in 2016. She was awarded a full scholarship to undertake PhD study at the University of Melbourne in 2017 and submitted her PhD thesis for examination this year.

Dr Tian used advanced brain imaging techniques to provide fundamental insight into the neural connectivity of the human insular and subcortex in health and mental illness. Dr Tian is supervised by Associate Professor Andrew Zalesky, Dr Chad Bousman and Professor Chris Pantelis. She is recognised for developing the Melbourne Subcortex Atlas, one of the most comprehensive functional brain atlases of the human subcortex and increasingly used in studies of the human connectome. Her thesis comprises three publications, including a recent full-length research article in the prestigious journal Nature Neuroscience for which she has won numerous awards. Dr Tian was invited to design an artistic impression of the new atlas, which appears on the front cover of the November issue of the journal.

Dr Tian’s most recent research unveils the extraordinarily complex layout of the human subcortex by identifying 27 new functional regions that organise hierarchically across four scales and adapt to changing cognitive demands. She developed one of the most comprehensive functional atlases of the human subcortex using three and seven Tesla functional MRI in more than 1000 healthy adults. The atlas is currently used to assist with optimising treatment targets for brain stimulation therapies in psychiatry and in studies of the human connectome. Ye has been invited to present the paper at four leading conferences, including the opening lecture at a major international meeting.

In 2021, Dr Tian will commence postdoctoral research in the Department of Psychiatry. She currently supervises two honours students and serves as the early career researcher committee member for OHBM Australia.