International psychiatry award puts QBI researcher among world's best

15 Nov 2017



Professor John McGrathResearch into brain development and schizophrenia has led to international acclaim for Professor John McGrath AM, recipient of Denmark’s Strömgren Medal.

The award is given in honour of famed Danish psychiatrist Erik Strömgren, who was credited with raising the standard of psychiatry research on par with medical sciences.

Professor McGrath, QBI group leader and Director of the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, is only the 27th recipient of the international prize, first awarded in 1979, and considered prestigious in the field of psychiatric epidemiology. He is the first Australian to be awarded the medal.

Professor McGrath studies the epidemiology of schizophrenia – searching for the causes, effects and patterns of the illness.

He and his team demonstrated that low vitamin D status in pregnant women and babies could affect brain development and increase risk of schizophrenia later in life.

Professor McGrath’s 2016 appointment to the Niels Bohr Professorship Program in Aarhus, Denmark established an international program of psychiatric epidemiology, which included a project to investigate the link between schizophrenia and vitamin D levels in 80,000 newborns.

Professor McGrath will deliver the medal’s accompanying Erik Strömgren Lecture.  

“It will be an opportunity to reflect on many years of vitamin D research, done in close collaboration with my colleagues in Denmark,” said Professor McGrath. 

“Denmark is renowned for its psychiatric research, as the country has some of the world’s best health registers and large biobanks.”  

Recognition for valuable mental health research

Director of the Queensland Brain Institute Professor Pankaj Sah said he was delighted by the accolade. 

“The Strömgren Medal is a recognition of the high esteem Professor McGrath is held in by his peers, and a confirmation of the valuable mental health research he is undertaking.”

In 2015, Professor McGrath was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Health and Medical Sciences, and in 2013 he was awarded a prestigious John Cade Fellowship by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

He has won several national and international awards and in 2007 was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).


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