Recently, I was delighted to receive the Australasian Neuroscience Society (ANS) Distinguished Achievement Award, granted “in honour of an outstanding contribution by an individual to neuroscience in Australia”. This was especially pleasing because it recognises the achievements of the many students and postdoctoral fellows who I have been fortunate to have work in the laboratory over the past 40 years. In addition, I was greatly honoured to join the small group of distinguished scientists who have previously received this award, David Curtis (2009), Elspeth McLachlan (2006), John Furness (2003), Max Bennett (2001), Stephen Redman (2000) and Lawrie Austin (1993).
At the annual meeting of the ANS, I was privileged also to give the John Eccles Lecture, where I thanked my many colleagues who directly contributed to the Distinguished Achievement Award and who assisted me in establishing QBI, in 2003. I reflected on the fact that the first paper from the new Institute was published in the prestigious journal, Nature Neuroscience and since then we have published over 1200 papers, many of which have been in high-impact journals.
For example, published in Nature in February, 2014, is Professor Peter Visscher’s group’s work demonstrating, for the first time, the veracity of epistasis - effects that are dependent on gene interactions - in humans. This opens up new exciting areas in complex diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.
I am delighted, also, to announce that Professor Visscher and Professor Naomi Wray have been appointed as Co-Directors of the new Centre for Neurogenetics and Statistical Genomics (CNSG), here at QBI. This Centre, which will open officially later this year, aims to understand the genetic basis of a range of brain diseases in addition to developing new statistical methodologies and computational tools to aid analyses.
Another major finding published recently in Nature Neuroscience comes from the laboratory of Professor Pankaj Sah, which shows, using information obtained during deep brain stimulation of human patients with Parkinson’s, for the first time the circuitry involved when the brain plans and initiates movement. Professor Sah and his colleagues report that contrary to previous notions, more than one part of the brain is involved in planning the movement of limbs. This insight may lead to a more targeted approach in the treatment of patients with Parkinson’s disease.
Please take the time to learn more about these remarkable discoveries in this edition of Neuroscience News. I thank you for your continued support, and look forward to sharing more of our successes with you soon.