Professor Jozef Gecz is SA Scientist of the Year

Monday, 12 August 2019

Jozef GeczThe University of Adelaide’s Professor Jozef Gecz has been named South Australia’s Scientist of the Year.

Professor Gecz, Head of Neurogenetics in the Adelaide Medical School, is a leader in genetics and biology of childhood onset neurodevelopmental disability.

He is a research pioneer with an enviable track record in gene discovery in intellectual disability, epilepsy, autism and, more recently, cerebral palsy.

Professor Gecz identified the first gene for non-syndromic intellectual disability in 1994 and discovered or contributed to the discovery of more than 200 different disease genes.

His research has transformed understanding of the causes and underlying mechanisms of neurodevelopmental disability, leading to clinical trials, informed national and international policy, and implementation of genomics for better health care delivery.

His work has established South Australia as an international leader in this field. During his 25 years of research in Adelaide, Professor Jozef Gecz has attracted more than $62 million of competitive research and philanthropic funding.

He is also a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences, and Faculty of Science of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia.

The SA Scientist of the Year was announced at the Science Excellence Awards on Friday evening.

“Congratulations to Professor Gecz, whose work has helped to establish South Australia as an international leader in the field of gene disease discovery,” said Minister for Innovation and Skills, David Pisoni. “With more than 20 peer reviewed publications – including a paper in the esteemed journal Nature – in the past year, Professor Gecz is an internationally recognised expert in his field.”

Other University of Adelaide winners at the Science Excellence Awards were:
Excellence in Research Collaboration won by B Part of It, led by Professor Helen Marshall, Deputy Director of Clinical and Translational Research at the Robinson Research Institute; and
Tall Poppy of the Year, won by Dr Nigel Rogasch, Senior Research Fellow in Adelaide Medical School and SAHMRI.

B Part of It is the SA Meningococcal B Vaccine Herd Immunity Study partnership between SA Health, the University of Adelaide, local government and others, which has saved a predicted 11 children from potential disability or death from a life-threatening disease. It has paved the way for a state-wide program, the most extensive MenB vaccine program in the world.

Professor Marshall is an international leader in vaccinology and infectious disease epidemiology. The project’s outcomes are already being translated to immunisation policy in Australia and globally.

Dr Nigel Rogasch’s research combines non-invasive brain stimulation and neuroimaging methods to uncover differences in prefrontal mechanisms between people with healthy cognitive function and those with schizophrenia, and looks at identifying how best to alter these mechanisms.

This research has the potential to lead to new treatments for improving cognitive function across a vast range of brain disorders.

In other science news, two University of Adelaide researchers have been appointed to the Premier’s Science and Innovation Council.

Professor Matthew Gilliham, Director of the Waite Research Institute and Deputy Head of the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, and Professor Andre Luiten, Director of the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing, have been selected for their expertise and knowledge in science, research and innovation.

Image: New SA Scientist of the Year Professor Jozef Gecz. Image by Randy Larcombe

 

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Ms Robyn Mills
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