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Special recognition for two world-leading epilepsy researchers

20 May 2021

Two Austin Health staff have been recognised at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Neurologists (ANZAN).

Associate Professor Piero Perucca, the Director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Program in Austin Health’s Department of Neurology, today received the Leonard Cox Award for his contribution to epilepsy diagnosis and management.

The Leonard Cox Award was established in 2000 to “recognise an investigator who has contributed significantly to neuroscience research at an early stage of their career” and A/Prof Perucca has been acknowledged for his work in the field of focal epilepsies genetics.

Focal epilepsies are the most prevalent epilepsy group, accounting for 60% of all epilepsies, and are characterised by seizures that arise from one half of the brain.

The award recognises contribution A/Prof Perucca’s research, in collaboration with Austin Health Laureate Professors Sam Berkovic and Ingrid Scheffer, has made to epilepsy diagnosis and management.

A/Prof Perucca said he was honoured to receive the award.

“It is fantastic to be able to continue Austin Health’s incredible history of epilepsy research,” A/Prof Perucca said.

“When I was studying overseas, I was already aware of the cutting-edge research and legacy of the Austin Health Epilepsy Program, and we still have patients from all over the world wanting to be part of the research that we’re undertaking.”

Prof Scheffer was also honoured at the ANZAN Annual Scientific Meeting earlier in the week when she gave the James Lance Oration, the key plenary lecture at the meeting, awarded for an outstanding academic contribution to neurology.

Prof Scheffer has a long and distinguished history of epilepsy research including being part of the research group which pioneered major discoveries in the genetic causes of epilepsy, including finding the first epilepsy gene and many other epilepsy genes since.

These discoveries have transformed the understanding of the causes of epilepsies and significantly impacted on the way epilepsy is managed in patients all around the world.

Austin Health CEO, Adam Horsburgh, congratulated A/Prof Perucca and Prof Scheffer.

“This recognition highlights the world-leading epilepsy research being conducted by Austin Health staff,” Adam said.

“The work of people such as Prof Scheffer and A/Prof Perucca continues to make a difference in the lives of some of our most vulnerable patients every day.

“Congratulations to both of them on this latest recognition of their achievements,” he said.