In addition to awarding the medal for lifelong contribution to medical research, the Bethlehem Griffiths Research Foundation also recognizes our best and brightest young researchers destined to be future world leaders through its Young Researcher of the Year award. The 2019 prize was been awarded to Associate Professor Piero Perucca for his exceptional work as an academic clinical neurologist, researcher and teacher.
Less than two years out from completing his PhD, Associate Professor Perucca has already had an impact on the diagnosis and management of people with epilepsy. His current research focuses on uncovering genetic factors in the most common forms of epilepsy. Identifying a genetic cause for a person’s epilepsy is important for counselling and selection of the most appropriate treatment and has the added dimension of contributing to the discovery of new precision-based therapies.
Presenting the prize on behalf of the Foundation, Professor Terry O’Brien, a previous recipient of the BGRF Medal, said that Piero is an exceptional person with rare humanistic qualities and integrity and that he is on track to become one of Australia’s leading clinical academics. Professor O’Brien emphasized Piero’s exceptional capacity for work demonstrated by his 45 articles in leading medical journals and outstanding academic achievements including graduating from medical school top of his class and securing three fellowships which he followed up by securing more than $800,000 in research funding to date.
The Bethlehem Griffiths Research Foundation was established in 1994 through a generous bequest from the estate of the late Mr Glen W A Griffiths, in appreciation for the care he received at Calvary Health Care Bethlehem. His will provided for the establishment of a foundation, independent of the hospital, to fund Victorians researching life-threatening neurological illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and MND as well as palliative care and stroke. Importantly other contributors have followed his lead, donating substantial sums to the Foundation. New methods of treatment resulting from the $6.5 million plus provided since the Foundation commenced are now used routinely to alleviate suffering.