Saturday, July 20, 2024

Brain ageing academic awarded Ryman Prize

Co-Director of the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) at UNSW Sydney and world-leading clinician and academic, Professor Perminder Sachdev AM, has been awarded the 2022 Ryman Prize by Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, in recognition of research that has substantially enhanced the life of older people around the world.

The $250,000 Ryman Prize is the world’s richest prize of its type and was established to create the equivalent of a Nobel Prize for people working in the field of the health of older people. 

The nomination, made by former UNSW Sydney Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian Jacobs, said he holds Professor Sachdev in the highest esteem and “as someone who has rendered conspicuous service to medical and health science, and the community at large, in the fields of brain ageing and dementia.”

Professor Sachdev said he was humbled by the award.

“It is a great honour to be so recognised by one’s peers.  I share this recognition with the many colleagues and students who have borne much of the burden of the research, and my wife and family who have provided unconditional support throughout my career.”

“I also pay tribute to my patients and research participants who volunteered their time and effort so that future generations may benefit. They have all shared my vision of achieving healthier brain ageing and better clinical care for all,” said Professor Sachdev.

Over his 35-year career, Professor Sachdev’s research and academic contributions have been influential and vast. His work in the development of consortia to research the epidemiology of dementia has had a transformational international impact. These consortia are unique in their global reach and are leading a re-evaluation of risk and protective factors for dementia.

Professor Jacobs, said that he was delighted and excited by the recognition for Professor Sachdev and emphasised that as noted in the nomination, Professor Sachdev had “championed the inclusion of diversity in dementia research.” 

His work has also informed three prevention trials with lifestyle factors, as well as a repurposed drug being assessed for dementia prevention. The influence of his work is such that the World Health Organisation recently invited Professor Sachdev to lead the development of a Dementia Research Blueprint to help make dementia research an international priority.

Professor Sachdev has been highly influential in reshaping the landscape of vascular cognitive disorders. He has led an international group to develop the VASCOG criteria for these disorders, which are now accepted around the world, as well as go on to describe a range of neuroimaging markers of vascular cognitive disorders, identified new genetic markers of both VCD and Alzheimer’s disease, and identified homocysteine and impaired fasting glucose as risk factors for brain atrophy. He was recently funded by the Australian National Health & Medical Research Council to establish a Centre of Research Excellence in Vascular Contributions to Dementia.

An international leader in Neuropsychiatry, Professor Sachdev was the first Chair of Neuropsychiatry in Australia and the third President of the International Neuropsychiatric Association. He has also served as President of the International College of Geriatric Psychoneuropharmacology, and as Chief Medical Adviser to Alzheimer’s Australia.

He has led the Neuropsychiatric Institute in Sydney for over 30 years – making it into the premier clinical and academic institution of its kind in Australia – and since 2012 has developed the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing to do the same for neurocognitive disorders. He also led the development of the international neuropsychiatric curriculum, with many of his former mentees/students now full professors and chairs in several countries.

Ryman Prize Director, David King said Professor Sachdev was singled out for this year’s prize for a truly unique contribution to the understanding of ageing.

“The nomination was compelling among a strong field of other applicants and nominees, and the jurors were clear in their view that Professor Sachdev’s work has substantially enhanced the life of older people around the world,” said Mr King.

Latest Articles