UQ Neurogenomics Expert Awarded Prestigious 2016 Ruth Stephens Gani Medal
University of Queensland – Mater Research Institute Associate Professor Geoffrey Faulkner was awarded the prestige 2016 Ruth Stephens Gani Medal by the Australian Academy of Science, for his outstanding work in neurogenomics, which could underpin future treatments for brain disorders such as dementia and schizophrenia.
The rapid advancement of genome sequencing technology has allowed scientists to better analyse large volumes of genetic information, in high throughput fashion with reasonable costs.
A/Prof. Faulkner and his team have discovered unusual genetic changes in neurons associated with the activity of mobile DNA, a type of ‘jumping gene’.
“Our work is intended to better explain how the brain works by analysing the complete set of genes – the genome – present within individual brain cells,” A/Prof. Faulkner said.
“We now know that each neuron (nerve cell in the brain) has a unique genome that is slightly different to every other cell in the same person’s brain.
“Our experiments suggest that the frequency and pattern of mutations are very different in the brains of schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease patients, compared to healthy individuals.
With numerous publications in eminent journals such as Cell, Nature, and Science, Ruth Stephens Gani Medalist A/Prof. Faulkner and his team are endeavouring to continue their research work to improve understanding of how the brain functions, and may provide opportunities to better understand mental health and neurodegenerative conditions.
The Ruth Stephens Gani Medal recognises research in human genetics and honours the contribution to science in human cytogenetics by the late Ruth Stephens Gani.