Samuel Gershon Medal

The Samuel Gershon Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Translational Neuroscience

The Samuel Gershon Medal is named in honour of Professor Samuel Gershon AC, MD, FAA, FRACP, FRS to celebrate lifetime achievement in translational neuroscience. The medal is the highest accolade in translational research to be awarded by the SAHMRI Mind and Brain Theme. The Medal is awarded for exceptional and outstanding contributions to the field of Translational Neuroscience or for the performance of innovative and original basic or clinical research that has led to significant advances in translational neuroscience, with commensurate international recognition.

The 2016 Samuel Gershon Medal was awarded to Professor Perry Bartlett.

Professor Perry Bartlett, Ph.D., FAA

Professor Perry Bartlett accepting his award from Professor Steve Wesselingh.

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, Perry 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 prominent among these has been his pioneering role in the discovery and characterisation of neuron-producing stem cells in the adult brain, which has resulted in an entirely new view of the adult brain’s restorative capacity and more importantly, to the realisation that cognitive functions like learning and memory appear to be regulated, at least in part, by the production of new neurons. Most recently, his work has focussed on defining the mechanisms that regulate neuronal production in the hippocampus of aged animals in order to reverse cognitive decline and has begun to translate this knowledge into human clinical trials. He has published >250 papers, many of which have appeared in the most influential journals and have attracted over 16,300 citations and an h-index of 68. One of the most remarkable aspects of Bartlett’s career has been his ability to correctly identify new mechanisms and concepts even though they appear to contradict the prevailing view.

The influence of Bartlett’s discoveries has provided him with the opportunities to expand the capacity of Australian neuroscience and to foster interaction with other Asia–Pacific countries, most notably China. At the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, he introduced neuroscience and established one of the first Neuroimmunology laboratories in the world, building this into a Division of Development and Neurobiology, and training several of the current leaders in Neurobiology field in Australia. His legacy has continued at The University of Queensland, where as Director he was responsible for raising over $200 million in funds and recruiting new research staff to establish a new neuroscience research institute, QBI, which has rapidly grown (now over 450 staff and 38 PIs) and come to be recognised as one of the leading neuroscience institutes in the Asia-Pacific region. He has established two joint laboratories with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS): the first in 2010, a Laboratory of Neuroscience and Cognition with the Institute of Biophysics in Beijing, then in 2013, the Joint Sino-Australian Brainnetome Laboratory was established with the Institute of Automation in Beijing. These laboratories have been very successful and significantly expanded the opportunities for real and fruitful joint research programs and training of young scientists in the region. As Director, he also established several centres within QBI to more rapidly translate QBI’s discoveries into the areas of dementia and education: The Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia and The Science of Learning Centre. Both Centres have been successful in developing novel protocols and therapeutics which are currently in late development phase.

His achievements in neuroscience research and neuroscience leadership have been further recognised recently with several prestigious awards: The CSL Florey Medal and Prize in 2015, for ‘significant achievements in biomedical science and / or human health advancement’, which has been awarded only 7 times since its inception in 1988; The Australian Neuroscience Society’s, Distinguished Achievement award in 2014 for an outstanding contribution to neuroscience in Australian and New Zealand and Research Australia’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015, for promoting medical research.

Past recipients of the Samuel Gershon Medal

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