PREAMBLE: Written for the presentation of the Samuel Gershon Medal for Translational Neuroscience of the Mind and Body, Theme of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, to Professor Perry Bartlett November 25, 2016, in Adelaide, Australia.
A word from Professor Samuel Gershon, M.D.
The Samuel Gershon Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Translational Neuroscience
Awarded in 2016 to Professor Perry Bartlett, Foundation Professor of Molecular Neuroscience at QBI, and
Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences
Ladies and Gentlemen - Good Afternoon!
I consider myself very fortunate in presenting this Samuel Gershon Award for Translational Neuroscience to an outstanding scientist in a field I worked in from a pharmacological point of view. I started this work at the University of Melbourne in the 1950’s and later continued the work in the USA. At that time, there was not much knowledge and little hope of developing therapeutic agents for Alzheimer’s disease. Coincidentally, we were given access to a compound synthesized by Professor Adrian Albert of the Australian National University, this compound T.H.A. – Tacrine, was initially tried as an anti- TB compound.
We initiated some experiments and quickly found that in conscious and anesthetized dogs it showed that it had marked alerting and arousing properties. This was also replicated in humans with a variety of impairments of brain function, and also like other pharmacological agents it had a number of other pharmacological effects.
Its primary pharmacological effect was as an acute choline esterase inhibitor. T.H.A. had a new life for several years as a highly touted treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. It did have one major and significant benefit on the established belief that Alzheimer’s disease was untreatable and this gave rise to the introduction of other proposed therapeutic agents and the field regained some therapeutic hope BUT we must conclude that these agents do not really have any significant lasting benefit in the long-term course of this devastating disease. It is therefore necessary to develop conceptually new approaches to address the intractable challenges presented by neurodegenerative disorders.
Such novel approaches can now be based on the opportunities presented by the very fundamental work of Professor Perry Bartlett. Perry has had a very distinguished career in the neurosciences, his pioneering work in the discovery and characterization of neuron producing stem cells in the adult brain has allowed new thinking with regards to the adult brain restorative capacity. Recently he has studied mechanisms that regulate neuronal production in the hippocampus of aged animals and has begun to look at clinical trials to attempt to translate the knowledge to neuronal loss occurring in the human brain.
Perry’s achievements in neuroscience research have been recognized with numerous prestigious awards and today we wish to take note of these achievements and congratulate him on his outstanding contributions and the hope that clinical studies will establish his work as having translated these remarkable findings to one or our most devastating diseases – Alzheimer’s disease!
In conclusion, I wish to offer my sincerest best wishes and congratulations to Professor Perry Bartlett on this award for his outstanding contributions to the field of translational neuroscience.