Professor Sam Berkovic
Samuel F. Berkovic AM, MD, FAA, FRACP, FRS is Laureate Professor in the Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, and Director of the Epilepsy Research Centre at Austin Health. His medical degree and doctorate were completed at the University of Melbourne before he undertook a 3-year Fellowship at McGill University. He returned to Melbourne in 1987 where he is a practicing neurologist and clinical researcher with a special interest in establishing close research links with basic scientists.
His early work was in neuroimaging where he was a pioneer in the application of MRI and single photon emission computed tomography in epilepsy, and especially epilepsy surgery. This work was rapidly applied to routine clinical use and remains so today. In the late 1980s he realized the potential for clinical genetic research in epilepsy, utilizing the NHMRC twin registry and working with large pedigrees. This led, together with molecular genetic collaborators in Adelaide and Germany, to the discovery of the first gene for epilepsy in 1995. Subsequently he, Ingrid Scheffer and their group have been involved the discovery of many of the known epilepsy genes. This has changed the conceptualisation of the causes of epilepsy, is having a major impact on directions of epilepsy research, and has directly translated to impacting daily clinical diagnosis and counselling, as well as refining treatment. He heads a large Program Grant integrating genetic, imaging and physiological studies in epilepsy. His current passions are completing the understanding of the complex genetic architecture of epilepsies and developing precision therapies for severe genetic epilepsies.
He was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 2005, Fellow of the Royal Society in 2007, Companion of the Order of Australia in 2014 and a member of the National Academy of Medicine in 2017. Together with Ingrid Scheffer, he was awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science in 2014.