Associate Professor Bronwyn Graham

Associate Professor Bronwyn Graham

Associate Professor Bronwyn Graham

Associate Professor

Contact details

Phone: (02) 9385 3886
Email: Associate Professor Bronwyn Graham
Fax: (02) 9385 3641

Office: Mathews, Room 1302

Research Summary

My research aims to identify the neurobiological causes of anxiety disorders, which are the most common class of mental illness in Australia, affecting 11% of men and almost twice as many women (18%) in a given year. A primary component of my research focuses on how sex hormones influence the development and treatment of anxiety disorders in women, with a view to develop sex-specific models of anxiety pathophysiology. My ultimate goal is to improve treatments for anxiety disorders (current treatments being ineffective for 50% of people) based on a nuanced understanding of the neurobiological factors that predict treatment needs, with a particular focus on tailoring treatments according to physiological differences between men and women. To achieve this, my lab at UNSW is one of few worldwide that conducts bench to bedside translational clinical neuroscience research, where basic processes are investigated in non-human animals, and then applied to clinical populations. I start with behavioural, molecular, and pharmacological research in rat models of anxiety (e.g. Graham & Daher, 2016, Neuropsychopharmacology), and then translate these findings to humans in experimental psychophysiological studies (e.g. Graham et al., Biological Psychiatry, 2017), from which I develop novel ways of enhancing treatments that I test in clinical trials (e.g. Graham et al. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2018). This approach has led to significant innovations in our understanding of anxiety and its treatment. For example, my work has been the first to show that uniquely female variables, like menstrual cycle status, use of the hormonal contraceptive pill, and motherhood, significantly influence the success of current gold-standard treatments for anxiety.


Course Coordinator of Honours Elective "Of Mice and Women: Putitng Gender on the Agenda of Neuroscience Research" (2017-current)

Lecturer and Course Coordinator of the Masters of Clinical Psychology course, “Experimental Clinical Psychology” (2013-current)

Lecturer in the Masters of Clinical Psychology course, “Adult and Child Clinical Practice” (2013-current)

Lecturer in the 3rd Year Psychology course, “Psychobiology of Memory and Motivation” (2013-current)


For a full publication list see

Representative publications

Li, S.H., Denson, T.G., Graham, B.M. (2020). Women with Generalized Anxiety Disorder show increased repetitive negative thinking during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. Clinical Psychological Science, 8, 1037-1045.

Li, S.H., Lloyd, A.R., Graham, B.M. (2020). Physical and mental fatigue across the menstrual cycle in women with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Hormones and Behavior, 118, 104667.

Tang, S., Graham, B.M. (2020). Hormonal, reproductive, and behavioural predictors of fear extinction recall in female rats. Hormones and Behavior, 121, 104693.

Tang, S., Graham, B.M. (2019). D-cycloserine and estradiol enhance fear extinction in nulliparous but not primiparous female rats. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 166.

Graham, B.M., Li, S.H., Black, M.J., Öst, L-G. (2018). The association between estradiol levels, hormonal contraceptive use, and responsiveness to one-session-treatment for spider phobia in women. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 90, 134-140.

Graham, B.M., Denson, T.F., Barnett, J., Calderwood, C., Grisham, J.R. (2018). Sex hormones are associated with rumination and interact with emotion regulation strategy choice to predict negative affect in women following a sad mood induction. Frontiers in Psychology, 9:937.

White, E.C.*, Graham, B.M. (2018). Low estradiol is linked to increased skin conductance, but not subjective anxiety or affect, in response to an impromptu speech task. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 98, 30-38.

Graham, B.M., Zagic, D., Richardson, R. (2017). Low endogenous fibroblast growth factor 2 levels are associated with heightened conditioned fear expression in rats and humans. Biological Psychiatry, 82, 601-  607.

Li., S.H., Graham, B.M. (2017). Why are women so vulnerable to anxiety, trauma- and stress-related disorders? The potential role of sex hormones. The Lancet Psychiatry, 4, 73-82.

Milligan-Saville, J.S., Graham, B.M. (2016). Mothers do it differently: reproductive experience alters fear extinction in female rats and women. Translational Psychiatry, 6, e928.

Li, S., Graham, B.M. (2016). Estradiol is associated with altered cognitive and physiological responses during fear conditioning and extinction in healthy and spider phobic women. Behavioral Neuroscience, 130, 614-623.

Graham, B.M., Daher, M. (2016). Estradiol and progesterone have opposing roles in the regulation of fear extinction in female rats. Neuropsychopharmacology, 41, 774-780.

Graham, B.M., Richardson, R. (2015). Fibroblast growth factor-2 as a new approach to fighting fear. JAMA Psychiatry, 72, 959-960.

Graham, B.M., Milad, M.R. (2013). Blockade of estrogen by hormonal contraceptives impairs fear extinction in female rats and women. Biological Psychiatry, 73, 371-378.

Graham, B.M., Milad, M.R. (2011). The study of fear extinction: implications for anxiety disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry, 168, 1255-1265.

Graham, B.M., Richardson, R. (2010). Fibroblast Growth Factor-2 enhances extinction and prevents renewal of conditioned fear. Neuropsychopharmacology, 35, 1348-1355.

Awards, Fellowships & Grants


Richardson, R., Graham, B.M., Baker, K. (2021-22). Preclinical testing of novel cannabinoid therapeutic adjuncts for females with anxiety disorders. CannaPacific Industry Partner, $22,8938

Richardson, R., Graham, B.M., Baker, K. (2021). Preclinical testing of novel cannabinoid therapeutic adjuncts for females with anxiety disorders. Industry Network Seed Funding Grant, UNSW, $25,000

Graham, B.M. (2021). Mothers do it differently: new insights on fear extinction mechanisms in females. UNSW Interlude Grant Scheme, $77,000

Graham, B.M. (2021). How hormones help to overcome fear: from rats to humans. UNSW Goldstar Grant, $25,000

Graham, B.M. Richardson, R., Werner-Seidler, A. (2021). Validating a novel biomarker of psychological resilience. UNSW Goldstar Grant, $25,000

Graham, B.M. (2018-2020). The impact of motherhood on fear extinction in female rats. Australian Research Council Discovery Project, $328,442

Graham, B.M., Richardson R. (2018-2020). A cross-species investigation of individual differences in fear regulation. Australian Research Council Discovery Project, $295,619

Graham, B.M. (2018). The UNSW Science Dean’s Carer Fellowship, $25,000

Graham, B.M., Li, S.H., Lloyd, A. (2018). Are women with chronic fatigue syndrome ovary-acting: the role of ovarian hormones in post-exertional exacerbation of fatigue symptoms. The Mason Foundation National Medical Program Grant, $100,000

Graham, B.M., Li, S.H., Newby, J.M., Lloyd, A. (2017). Menstrual cycle phase influence on symptom severity in women with chronic fatigue syndrome. The Mason Foundation National Medical Program Grant, $98,287

Graham, B.M. (2016). Motherhood alters fear extinction in female rats. UNSW Goldstar Grant, $40,000

Graham, B.M., Richardson R. (2016). Fibroblast growth factor-2: a novel means of fighting fear? UNSW Faculty of Science Silverstar Grant, $35,000

Graham, B.M., Richardson R. (2015). Fibroblast growth factor-2: a novel means of fighting fear? UNSW Goldstar Grant, $40,000

Westbrook, R.F., Richardson, R., Graham, B.M. (2015). UNSW Major Research Equipment and Infrastructure Initiative Grant, $144,094

Graham, B.M. (2014-2017).The regulation of fearful emotions: novel insights from the female brain. Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award, $395,220

Graham, B.M. (2014-2017).Sex hormones and fear inhibition: a novel exploration of why women are so vulnerable to anxiety disorders. MQ: Transforming Mental Health Foundation Fellowship, $351,070

Richardson, R., Graham, B.M., McNally, G.P., and Killcross, S.(2014).UNSW Major Research Equipment and Infrastructure Initiative Grant, $154,179

Graham, B.M. (2013). The impact of sex hormones on the inhibition of fearful memories. UNSW Early Career Research Grant, $20,000

Graham, B.M. (2010). Neurological Fellowship from the American Australian Association to undertake postdoctoral research at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, $25,000 USD


2020: Aubrey Lewis Award from Biological Psychiatry Australia

2016: Awarded a “NSW Young Tall Poppy Science Award” from the Australian Institute of Policy and Science

2015: Named an Association for Psychological Science “Rising Star

2011: Awarded the 2011 Excellent PhD Thesis in Psychology Award by the Science Academia and Research Advisory Group of the Australian Psychological Society

Affiliations & Memberships

I am an Associate Editor for Behavioural Brain Research.

I am an Editorial Board Member on Behaviour Research and Therapy,

I am an Editorial Board Member on Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied. 

Current Research Students

Current PhD Students: Jodie Pestana, Emma Bryant, Anagah Kaluve, Nusaibah Islam

Past PhD Students: Dr Emily White, Dr Samantha Tang

Past Masters Students: Dr Stella Li, Justine Barnett, Clare Calderwood, Srishti Yadev, Saria Green

Past Honours Students: Melissa Daher, Chantelle Martyn, Josie Milligan-Saville, Geena Shin, Yinnie Chung, Emily Walters, Samantha Tang, Dino Zagic, Vanessa Dong, Jodie Pestana, Shelley Weiner, Nusaibah Islam, Anagha Kaluve, Phoebe Leung

Other Information

Media Links:

See Bronwyn's recent UNSOMNIA talk - UNSW Centre for Ideas and Grand Challenges Initiative

See Bronwyn explain her MQ Foundation funded research project