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Plenary Speakers 

Prof Gina Rippon
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Prof Gina Rippon, Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Neuroimaging at Aston University's Aston Brain Centre in the UK, conducts research using brain imaging to study developmental disorders such as autism. She is a Past President of the British Association for Cognitive Neuroscience. She also investigates the experiences of unrecognized females on the autistic spectrum, with a book on this subject scheduled for publication in 2025. Her research delves into using neuroscience techniques to investigate social processes, notably those linked to sex/gender issues. Critiquing 'neurotrash,' she challenges the misrepresentation of neuroscience findings, particularly regarding sex/gender differences, and advocates for responsible communication. Her book 'The Gendered Brain' received acclaim for its accessibility and revolutionary insights. A staunch supporter of women's representation, especially in science, she is testified before UK parliamentary committees and collaborated with the EU on gender equality in fields like physics and mathematics. Additionally, she explores the impact of gender stereotypes in early development and contributed to gender stereotype investigations in early education. Actively engaged in science communication, she speaks at global events, including the Sydney Opera House, and writes for prestigious outlets like New Scientist and Scientific American. Recognized for her contributions, she was appointed an Honorary Fellow of the British Science Association in 2015.

Dr Hela Ouennich

Dr Hela Ouennich is a Tunisian medical doctor specialising in mental health, presently employed at the National Board for Family and Population, a public institution dedicated to reproductive health. Over the past decade, she led the first psychological assistance centre for women survivors of violence until 2021. Since 2022, her focus shifted towards perinatal mental health, particularly examining the impact of domestic violence on pregnancy and the postnatal period. Additionally, she proudly serves as a member of the scientific committee of the National Observatory of Violence Against Women in Tunisia. Throughout her career, she authored numerous reports, evaluations, and guidelines addressing various aspects of gender-based violence, child and adolescent mental health, and violence against children. In recognition of her efforts, she was honoured to be selected as one of sixteen leaders in activism against gender-based violence in 2018.

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Prof Iris Sommer
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Prof Iris Sommer trained as a psychiatrist and pursued her PhD on language in psychosis. She started the Voices Clinic in Utrecht and studied auditory hallucinations with imaging and brain stimulation. In 2017, she moved to Groningen, where she continued her work on language as a biomarker for psychosis. Together with Lena Palaniyappan and others, she started the Discourse in Psychosis Consortium. Other projects she leads are optimal treatment for women with psychosis and improving nutrition and microbiome for psychiatric patients. She won the Dutch Brain Foundation Anniversary prize for her last project in 2020. In 2021, she was appointed Distinguished Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Sciences and in 2022, she won the Dutch annual prize for Science and Society. She is PI of the 2023 EU-funded Trusting consortium and was appointed an EU Synergy award with Philipp Homan, Wolfram Hinzen and Brita Elvevag in 2024. As of April 2024, she is the President-Elect of the Schizophrenia International Research Society (SIRS). Iris also writes popular scientific books that have been translated into several languages.

Prof Jane Fisher
Prof Jane Fisher is Director of Global and Women’s Health and Head and co-director of the Planetary Health Division, School of Public Health, and Preventive Medicine at Monash University, Australia. She is an academic Clinical and Health Psychologist with longstanding interests in the social determinants of health and healthcare participation. Her research has focused on gender-based risks to mental health and psychological functioning from adolescence to mid-life related to fertility, conception, pregnancy, the perinatal period and chronic non-communicable diseases, and parenting capabilities and early childhood development in low- and high-income settings. She has conducted extensive epidemiological studies in clinical and community settings across Australia, Vietnam, and Nepal, along with leading nationally funded intervention trials. She has also successfully supervised over 50 research higher degree and postgraduate coursework candidates to completion. She is an expert technical advisor to international agencies, including the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the United Nations Population Fund.
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Prof Jayashri Kulkarni
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Prof Jayashri Kulkarni assumed her role as Professor of Psychiatry at The Alfred and Monash University,Australia in 2002. There, she established and led the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre (MAPrc), which grew from 25 individuals in 2002 to a team of 185 staff and students by 2015. MAPrc, epitomized by its motto "We Mend Minds," aims to pioneer novel treatments, deepen understanding, and enhance service delivery for individuals with mental illness. As a clinical psychiatry research centre, MAPrc translates cutting-edge neuroscience discoveries into innovative treatments for severe mental disorders. Prof. Kulkarni's research focus lies in psychoneuroendocrine investigations of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis in women with severe mental disorders. Notably, she has spearheaded the use of oestrogen as a novel treatment for schizophrenia. She has won numerous prestigious awards for her research and serves as chair on several advisory boards for both industry and government. Prof. Kulkarni's expertise extends to various domains of women's mental health, backed by extensive clinical experience.

Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar

Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar is the founder of SNEHA, an NGO in Chennai for the prevention of suicide, and also serves as the Head of the Psychiatry Department at Voluntary Health Services, Adyar, Chennai. She holds membership in the WHO’s International Network for Suicide Research and Prevention and serves as an Honorary Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne, Australia. Formerly the Vice President of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), she was honoured with the Ringel Service Award. Recognised for her contributions, she's been awarded Honorary Fellowships by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (FRCPsych) in the UK and the WPA Honorary Membership by the World Psychiatric Association. She has also been conferred FRCP (EDIN). Dr. Vijayakumar co-edited the WHO’s seminal report “Preventing Suicide – A Global Imperative” in 2014 and sits on the editorial boards of prestigious journals like Lancet Psychiatry. Dr Vijayakumar has been recognised in India with accolades like For The Sake of Honour, Bharathi Virudu, Women Doctor of the Year, and more. She has been a vocal advocate for suicide decriminalisation and crafted India's national suicide prevention strategy in November 2022. With over 100 peer-reviewed papers and two edited books to her credit, her focus remains on developing cost-effective community interventions for suicide prevention.

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Prof Lakshmi N. Yatham
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Prof Lakshmi N. Yatham works in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He is also the Regional Head of Psychiatry and Regional Program Medical Director for Mental Health and Addictions at Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Healthcare. He has an executive MBA in health care from the Sauder School of Business. Prof. Yatham has held leadership positions for national and international professional organisations, including the President of the International Society for Bipolar Disorders, the Secretary for the World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry (WFSBP), and he is now the President-Elect of the WFSBP. Prof. Yatham’s significant areas of research interest includes neurobiology and the treatment of bipolar disorder and major depression.

Prof Norman Sartorius

Prof Norman Sartorius was Director of the Division of Mental Health of WHO, a position he held until 1993. He served as the President of the World Psychiatric Association (1993–1999) and the European Psychiatric Association (1997–2001). Prof. Sartorius was a professor at the University of Geneva in 1993 and held professorships at the University of Zagreb and the University of Prague. He has worked as an honorary visiting or adjunct professor at the University of London, Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris, the University of Beijing, Washington University in St. Louis, the New York University, the University of Belgrade, and the University of Florida. He is a senior faculty member at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in the Mental Health Department. He has written several books, and his journal articles have been cited 79,0000 times with an index of 117. Prof. Sartorius is known for his scholarship, wisdom and wit and has a deep interest in the role of caregivers. Over the last many years, he has trained early career professionals worldwide in leadership and professional skills.

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Dr Soumitra Pathare
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Dr Soumitra Pathare is a psychiatrist and the Director of the Centre for Mental Health Law & Policy (CMHLP), Indian Law Society, Pune, India. His primary interests are in the areas of mental health policy, scaling up mental health services, suicide prevention, and rights-based care & legislation. In the past, he has provided technical assistance to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, in drafting India’s new Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, which takes a rights-based approach to mental health care. He was a member of the Mental Health Policy Group appointed by the Government of India to draft India’s first National Mental Health Policy, released in October 2014. Soumitra has served as a WHO consultant in many low- and middle-income countries, including Botswana, Seychelles, Lesotho, Samoa, Vanuatu & Eritrea, Guyana, and Grenada, among others, to assist them in drafting and implementing mental health legislation and national mental health policies. He is currently the co-PI on multiple projects at CMHLP, including suicide prevention projects such as Outlive, ENGAGE, SPIRIT and Contact and Safety Planning (CASP). Soumitra has conceptualised and steered various innovative community-led mental health interventions and strongly believes all persons with mental illness should be able to fully participate in society, as everyone else!

Prof Vidita Vaidya

Prof Vidita Vaidya is a Senior Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Biological Sciences at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, India. She received her Life Science and Biochemistry undergraduate training at St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai. Prof Vaidya obtained her doctoral degree in Neuroscience at Yale University with the late Professor Ronald Duman. After postdoctoral fellowships at the Karolinska Institute and Oxford University, she returned to a faculty position at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in 2000. She is a fellow of all three Indian Science academies. She received the National Bioscientist Award in 2012, the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award in Medical Sciences in 2015, and the Infosys Prize for Life Sciences in 2022. She was awarded the Nature Award for Excellence in Mentorship in India in 2019. Her research group is interested in understanding the neurocircuitry of emotion, its modulation by life experience and the alterations in emotional neurocircuitry that underlie complex psychiatric disorders like depression. Her team is also interested in understanding the actions of serotonergic psychedelics at the molecular, cellular, neurocircuit and behavioural level. She is committed to enhancing equity, diversity and inclusion in academia.

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Prof U. Vindhya
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Prof U. Vindhya, a former professor at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad campus, is currently an independent researcher. She has received several awards and fellowships, including the South Asian Visiting Scholarship (Oxford University), Fulbright Visiting Lectureship (USA), and Visiting Professorships at Eotvos Lorand University, Hungary and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Her research interests are located at the interface of psychology and feminism, focusing on gender and mental health, violence against women, trafficking, feminist counselling, and the psychological dynamics of women's political activism. Her publications include Feminist Psychologies (Routledge, 2024) and the co-edited book Handbook of International Feminisms: Perspectives on Psychology, Women, Culture and Rights (Springer, New York), which won the 2012 Distinguished Publication Award from the Association for Women in Psychology (USA). She has led several research projects sponsored by the World Bank, Gates Foundation, Tata Trusts, ICRW, UGC and the ICSSR, amongst others.

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