December 4, 2015
The Westmead Institute’s Professor Steve Vucic has been awarded the prestigious 2016 Gottschalk Medal for his pioneering research towards finding a cure for the devastating neurodegeneration disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Awarded by the Australian Academy of Science, the Gottschalk medal recognises outstanding research in the medical sciences by researchers under 40 years of age.
Professor Vucic, who is also Westmead Hospital’s director of neurophysiology, has uncovered novel mechanisms that underlie the development of ALS.
He has identified important processes that contribute to the triggering of the disease, leading to the identification of novel therapeutic targets and therapeutic approaches.
In addition, Professor Vucic has invented a much needed diagnostic technique for ALS, enabling earlier diagnosis and management of the disease which has the potential to improve survival rates and quality of life.
Describing his work as a “labour of love”, Professor Vucic has dedicating his life to researching ALS and says his aim is to find a cure before he retires.
“ALS is a dreadful and devastating disorder with just a three to five year survival rate. It claims the lives of two Australians every day,” he said.
“Although we have known about ALS for over 150 years and there has been a lot of research over the last decade, the answers to the fundamental questions about where ALS begins and how it progresses remain elusive,” he said.
“I am determined to change that and help humanity.”
Prof Vucic began studying ALS as part of his PhD in 2005 and joined the Westmead Institute in 2012 to further his research.
Professor Vucic has also made significant research contributions in the understanding of molecular and genetic processes underlying relapsing and progressive forms of multiple sclerosis, leading to development of novel treatments for these chronic diseases.
The Gottschalk Medal will be formally presented at the Academy’s annual three day celebration of Australian science, Science at the Shine Dome, in Canberra in May 2016.