ADHD Researcher honoured with top award

29 Jun 2010

A leading cognitive neuroscientist from UQ's Queensland Brain Institute and School of Psychology has been honoured by the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA) for his research into attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Assoc. Professor Mark Bellgrove has won the Paul Bourke Award for Early Career Research after building his reputation investigating the links between genes for ADHD and its cognitive problems.

“It’s an honour, naturally, to be recognised by your peers, especially in an area of research where so many families are affected,” Dr Bellgrove said.

In particular, the award recognises his research into the genetic basis of the disorder, which will be a focus when he presents the Paul Bourke Lecture on Wednesday 30th June.

“Problems inhibiting behaviour are a major feature of a lot of psychiatric disorders. People with ADHD have trouble inhibiting behaviour – for example, children often blurt out answers in class at inappropriate times and just can’t exercise cognitive control,” Dr Bellgrove explained.

The neuroscientist is leading one of the largest studies in Australia into ADHD in an effort to identify the genes that confer risk to the disorder. His team is hoping to recruit more than 600 families for their research.

Dr Bellgrove is also investigating the effects of certain chemicals, such as dopamine and noradrenaline, on the ability to inhibit behaviour.

He explained: “Drugs that are used to treat ADHD, such as Ritalin, have a mixed dopamine and noradrenaline action and this seems important to improving our ability to inhibit information”.

“This research also provides us with molecular targets for genetic analysis, so we can look for genetic variation in the noradrenaline transporter gene and see whether it predicts your ability to be able to inhibit your behaviour.”

Eventually, this research could assist researchers to better diagnose patients and provide more targeted treatments.

The free lecture is being held at the Queensland Brain Institute at 6pm and is open to the public.  Please RSVP to or phone 02 6249 1788.

People wanting to find out more about the ADHD study should visit, call 0434 375 652 or email


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Notes to the Editor:

Assoc. Professor Mark Bellgrove completed his PhD in Experimental Neuropsychology at Monash University. In 2002 he commenced a post-doctoral period at the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Dublin before being recruited to the University of Melbourne in 2005.  He relocated to The University of Queensland in 2007 with a joint appointment between the Queensland Brain Institute and the School of Psychology. In 2008 he was awarded a Young Investigator grant from NARSAD, USA and in 2009 was awarded a Career Development Award from the NHMRC and 3 NHMRC Project Grants. 

The Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) was established as a research institute of the University of Queensland in 2003. The Institute is now operating out of a new $63 million state-of-the-art facility and houses 27 Principal Investigators with strong international reputations. QBI is one of the largest neuroscience institutes in the world dedicated to understanding the mechanisms underlying brain function.