Global recognition for Melbourne epilepsy pioneer

Australian paediatric neurologist Professor Ingrid Scheffer is the Asia-Pacific L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Laureate for 2012L’Oréal and UNESCO have just announced that Australian paediatric neurologist Professor Ingrid Scheffer is the Asia-Pacific L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Laureate for 2012.

She is one of five international winners who will each receive US$100,000 in recognition of their contribution to the advancement of science at the Awards Ceremony on 22 March 2012 at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

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Her work has transformed our understanding of epilepsy. Twenty years ago we thought that epilepsy was largely a result of injury. Now, thanks to Professor Scheffer’s body of work we know that genes play a large role. She is a paediatric neurologist at the Florey and The University of Melbourne.

About Ingrid Scheffer

Professor Ingrid Scheffer is revealing the genetic basis of epilepsy, and identifying new forms of epilepsy.
Her collaborative research team has identified many of the genes linked to epilepsy, and how ion channel pore defects in cells cause seizures. As a clinical researcher, she has brought improved diagnosis and genetic counselling to people with epilepsy around the world.
She continues to unravel the genetic basis of epilepsy, which will lead to better therapies and one day, may help to cure this severe group of disorders.
“This is a true honour,” Professor Scheffer said. “I am thrilled to be recognised for my work in epilepsy as a clinician and scientist. Women in science face additional challenges juggling a career and family, but if they are passionate about science, life can be incredibly rewarding.”
She is a passionate advocate for improving the status of women in science. She believes that too many women leave science mid-career and that we need to do more to keep them. Professor Scheffer is Australia’s fifth L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Laureate.
Past recipients include Elizabeth Blackburn (who went on to win a Nobel Prize), Suzanne Cory (now president of the Australian Academy of Science), Jenny Graves, and Jillian Banfield.

The five Laureates for 2012 are:

Jill Farrant (Africa and the Arab States)
For discovering how plants survive under dry conditions.

Ingrid Scheffer (Asia-Pacific)
For identifying genes involved in some forms of epilepsy.

Frances Ashcroft (Europe)
For advancing our understanding of insulin secretion and of neonatal diabetes.

Susana Lopez (Latin America)
For identifying how rotaviruses cause the death of 600,000 children each year.

Bonnie Bassler (North America)
For understanding the chemical communication between bacteria and opening new doors for treating infections.

You can read L’Oréal’s media releases, and background information about Ingrid and the other recipients at www.scienceinpublic.com.au/loreal For interviews give me a call on 0417 131 977 or email niall@scienceinpublic.com.au