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Research into link between vitamin D and schizophrenia wins medal

Research into brain development and schizophrenia has led to international acclaim for The University of Queensland’s Professor John McGrath, recipient of Denmark’s Strömgren Medal.

Queensland Brain Institute researcher and Director of the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research’s Professor McGrath studies the epidemiology of schizophrenia – searching for the causes, effects and patterns of the illness.

Professor McGrath and his team demonstrated 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 [a type of biorepository that stores biological samples].”

First awarded in 1979, Professor McGrath will be the 22nd recipient of the international prize.

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).

Source: UQ

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