Mental HealthPsychosis

Semaglutide to reduce metabolic risk in people with psychosis

Project Lead
Associate Professor Julia Lappin

Associate Professor Julia Lappin

Associate Professor Julia Lappin

Associate Professor Julia Lappin is a psychiatrist ​​and the Clinical Director of the NSW Tertiary Referral Service for Psychosis (TRSP). She is also an Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales School of Psychiatry and Mental Health. She trained in psychiatry at the Maudsley Hospital, London and completed her PhD at King’s College, London, on the topic of outcomes following a first episode of psychotic illness.

Associate Professor Lappin’s research program focuses on improving outcomes for people living with psychotic illness, including people with substance use and other comorbidities. This clinical research is embedded in the TRSP, which delivers a holistic approach to care, enabling greater access to evidence-based interventions, including psychological, psychosocial and physical health treatments.

People living with psychotic illness experience high rates of physical ill-health and their life expectancy is reduced by up to 20 years. People living with psychosis need effective treatments to improve their physical health. Weight gain and diabetes are two of the main physical health problems which are neglected in this group. This study will test the effectiveness of an existing diabetes treatment in reducing weight and diabetes risk in people living with psychotic illness.

About the project

This study investigates whether semaglutide, a diabetes treatment, can reduce weight and risk for diabetes in people living with psychosis who are overweight or obese. It focuses particularly on individuals who are receiving the antipsychotic treatments clozapine or olanzapine, which cause weight gain and may increase risk for diabetes. It will also investigate whether people receiving semaglutide experience changes in their overall body composition, assessing the proportions of fat, muscle, bones and water by completing whole-body scans before and after the 24-week semaglutide treatment. This has never been tested before in this population.

If semaglutide is shown in the study to be effective in reducing weight and in preventing or delaying the onset of diabetes, it could be used regularly in future in people living with psychosis who are obese and at risk for developing diabetes. The results could also provide evidence to support its availability under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, which could make this preventative treatment more readily available to people living with psychosis across Australia, helping to improve their physical health and life expectancy.

Funding Sources

  • Commonwealth grant funding awarded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care
  • The Serpentine Foundation
  • Prince of Wales Health Foundation
  • SPHERE Neuroscience, Mental Health and Addiction CAG
  • Philanthropic donation (via UNSW School of Psychiatry)

Other Projects

View all

Interested to hear more?

Do you want to learn more about past or present Mindgardens work?

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.