The Scholars podcast is a show featuring scholars from the General Sir John Monash Foundation. Hosted by CEO of Mojo Media, Justin Kelly, he interviews the best, brightest, boldest and bravest across all fields of academia, business, science, humanities, and the arts. On today’s episode, Justin interviews Dr Gemma Sharp.
Dr Gemma Sharp completed her MSc in the Department of Oncology at Cambridge University in 2010. Her research focused on identifying the cellular origin of the various types of breast cancers, and the tumour-initiating mechanisms employed by these cells. Since returning to Australia, Gemma has studied psychology and completed a PhD in Clinical Psychology at Flinders University.
Gemma started an NHMRC Early Career Research Fellowship at Monash University in 2018 at the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre (MAPrc). She is a Senior Research Fellow and leads the Body Image Research Group at MAPrc. Her research group focuses on the development of novel treatments for body image related disorders such as eating disorders using digital technology. Gemma also runs her own private clinical psychology practice in Melbourne where she specialises in the treatment of body image concerns, eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorder.
Gemma transitioned from medical science to psychological science after she found herself becoming more interested in the behaviours of people around her instead of their cells. It was her time working in the field of cancer prevention, in particular, discouraging people from seeking tanned skin through sun exposure, which led her to start focusing on body image. Following this, she found an interest in the cosmetic surgery and body modification space. Gemma enjoys that psychology allows her to have more of a direct impact on patients as well as conducting innovative mental health research.
Gemma is currently teaming up with The Butterfly Foundation and Instagram to develop a world-first body image focused chatbot using artificial intelligence technology. The chatbot will provide therapeutic skills to people struggling with body image concerns and offer support and advice to their loved ones. The project has been funded by the AMP Foundation and Bupa Health Foundation.
If body image concerns or eating issues affect you or someone you care about, The Butterfly Foundation Helpline can be contacted on 1800 33 4673.