Leading neuroscience expert receives SAHMRI Mind and Brain's highest accolade

25 Nov 2016
Leading neuroscience expert receives SAHMRI Mind and Brain's highest accolade

The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute's (SAHMRI) Mind and Brain theme is pleased to announce that Professor Perry Bartlett PhD FAA is the recipient of the third annual Samuel Gershon Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Translational Neuroscience.

The Samuel Gershon Medal is the highest accolade in translational research to be awarded by SAHMRI, and is awarded for exceptional and outstanding contributions to the field of Translational Neuroscience, including innovative and original basic or clinical research that has led to significant advances in translational neuroscience, with commensurate international recognition.

SAHMRI’s Mind and Brain Theme Leader, Professor Julio Licinio, said that Professor Bartlett has dedicated much of his life to neuroscience.

“With almost 40 years’ of work to understand the brain and its complexities, the Gershon Medal Committee unanimously decided that Professor Bartlett was very deserving of this award,” he said.

A leader in his field

Professor Bartlett was the inaugural Director of the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI), of the University of Queensland (2003-2015), and is currently the Foundation Professor of Molecular Neuroscience at QBI, and Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences.

Throughout his career, Professor Bartlett has been responsible for a series of ground-breaking discoveries in neuroscience, which have often overturned existing dogma and led to a new understanding, particularly in the areas of neuronal precursor regulation and neuron survival in the developing and adult nervous system.

Most recently, he, alongside a team from QBI, were able to reverse dementia in mice through exercise, and are now hoping they can do the same in humans. Professor Bartlett realised that that stem cells could regrow chains of neurons (brain cells), it raised hopes that lost functions, especially the loss of memory collapse that goes hand in hand with dementia and mood disorders, such as depression, could be reversed.

Professor Bartlett says that receiving this award is a true honour. “I am delighted to receive this prestigious award, which recognises the contribution of basic neuroscience to the development of new therapeutics to treat brain disease,” he said.

The medal will be awarded at Samuel Gershon Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Translational Neuroscience Award Ceremony on Friday, 25 November 2016 from 1:00 – 2:30pm in the SAHMRI Auditorium.

Who is Samuel Gershon?

Professor Gershon has had many accomplishments in his career. The most well known was his translation of the principles of pharmacology to lithium treatment of bipolar disorder, making it a universally used approach to bipolar disorders. In 1949, in Australia, Dr John Cade published his findings on the successful use of lithium salts to treat manic excitement. As a result of a number of deaths caused by lithium, Dr. Cade banned the use of lithium in his hospital. Gershon and colleagues at the University of Melbourne conducted a number of therapeutic studies from which they could propose a safe therapeutic range for lithium usage in patients: 0.6–1.2 mEq/L of lithium.

That "functional therapeutic window” is still being used worldwide. He was formerly Professor and Acting Head of Pharmacology, University of Melbourne; Director of the Neuropsychopharmacology Research Unit, New York University; Chairman of Psychiatry, Wayne State University; Associate Vice Chancellor for Research in the Health Sciences and Vice President for Research, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and Vice-Chair for Academic Affairs, Department of Psychiatry, University of Miami. He is also Co-Chief Editor of Bipolar Disorders (Wiley), a publication that he founded as the official journal of the International Society for Bipolar Disorders.

Professor Gershon is an Honorary Fellow with SAHMRI's Mind and Brain theme.