Sam Berkovic and Ingrid Scheffer, researchers from the University of Melbourne, have changed the way the world thinks about epilepsy, the debilitating condition which affects about 50 million people.
Tonight they were awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science, and a cheque for $300,000, for discoveries of links between epilepsy and genes which open the way to better diagnosis and treatment.
The professors discovered that a particularly severe form of epilepsy, thought to result from vaccination, was actually caused by a gene mutation.
The $50,000 Frank Fenner Science Minister’s Prize for Life Scientist of the Year goes to Professor Ryan Lister of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology at the University of Western Australia.
This award is in recognition of his contributions to the understanding of gene regulation and its potential ability to change agriculture and the treatment of disease and mental health.
The $50,000 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year goes to Dr Matthew Hill for his work on the development of metal-organic frameworks for practical industrial application.
Dr Hill is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow and principal research scientist and leader of porous materials research at the CSIRO.
The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary and Secondary Schools were awarded to:
- Brian Schiller from Seacliff Primary School in South Australia for his contributions to science teaching and for taking it in new creative directions.
- Geoff McNamara from Melrose High School in the Australia Capital Territory for his inspiring science teaching taking the innovative approach.
Each award is for $50,000.
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