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QIMR scientist honoured for ground-breaking genetics research

QIMR Berghofer scientist Professor Sarah Medland OAM has been elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in honour of her outstanding contribution to science, including her work helping to unravel the mysteries of the brain.

The Psychiatric and Statistical Geneticist is being recognised for significantly advancing our understanding of the ways that genetics influences the structure and function of the human brain.

Professor Medland said she was deeply humbled to be elected as a Fellow.

“This is a huge honour to have been elected to the Academy. I am very thankful that I get the chance to work with brilliant and inspiring colleagues to answer difficult questions working together in a creative and collaborative way,” Professor Medland said.

Professor Medland began her association with QIMR Berghofer as a PhD student more than two decades ago. She now leads the Institute’s Mental Health and Neuroscience Research Program.

Among a long list of achievements, she co-founded the ENIGMA brain imaging consortium which has transformed neuroimaging research globally, and now includes more than 1,000 researchers from 43 countries. She also leads projects examining the impact that genetics has in mental health conditions and works on a range of disorders including depression, bipolar disorder and ADHD.

“We’re trying to find genetic variations that might influence the risk of developing a disorder or affect how the brain works. Each condition or trait, whether it’s depression or Parkinson’s disease or being left-handed, will be influenced by hundreds or thousands of different genetic variants, so the more we can find, the better our understanding of how these systems work,” Professor Medland said.

QIMR Berghofer Director and CEO Fabienne Mackay said Professor Medland is incredibly deserving of this honour.

“Sarah’s ground-breaking work in genetics is uncovering vital information to help advance medical research about conditions, traits, and diseases that affect millions of people globally, particularly in the area of Mental Health,” Professor Mackay said.

“Sarah is an extraordinary researcher, a leader in her field internationally, and a champion of collaboration in science. She is also passionate about inspiring and mentoring students and scientists, and is dedicated to communicating the importance of medical research.”