Professor Michael Berk

2019 Victoria Prize for Science & Innovation

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Professor Michael Berk has been awarded the 2019 Victoria Prize in recognition of his research and discovery of risk factors, novel therapies, and preventative treatments for mental health problems.

 

 
2012 an Australian Laureate Fellowship.
Despite the rising prevalence and growing burden of a range of psychiatric disorders, there is a startling lack of new treatments. There is an urgent need for new medications, interventions, and preventative measures to improve the lives of people with psychiatric disorders.

Professor Berk has pioneered a novel research program aimed at treating and preventing psychiatric disorders, discovering therapies and understanding risk factors. Leading a team of diverse researchers, he has taken on the multi-faceted challenge of treatment discovery. His extensive experience in the translation of basic and epidemiological research into clinical outcomes has been vital to the success of one of the largest and most productive novel therapy clinical trial programs in the country. The program has delivered a number of first-in-kind treatments. 

The breadth and depth of Professor Berk’s contributions include pioneering clinical trials of N-acetyl cysteine for individuals with schizophrenia. His team also developed the first targeted mitochondrial combination therapy for bipolar disorder focussed on its depressive phase, which is poorly addressed by available treatments. 

He is a mentor for researchers from around the world in cutting edge areas such as diet and mental health. Investigations of diet quality and depression have suggested a radically new approach to treatment and prevention. He is also part of a global team of researchers studying the efficacy of aspirin in the prevention of depression. Most recently, Professor Berk led the Centre of Research Excellence for the Development of Innovative Therapies for Psychiatric Disorders, representing the first national, coordinated approach to treatment discovery in mental health care.  

Through the Centre for Innovation in Mental and Physical Health and Clinical Treatment, Professor Berk’s research and development of innovative treatments has had a substantial and positive impact on those who suffer from psychiatric disorders; removing stigma, supporting re-employment and reducing service utilisation.

Professor Berk is an NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow, and the Alfred Deakin Chair of Psychiatry at Deakin University & Barwon Health. He is an Honorary Professorial Research Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry, the Florey Institute for Neuroscience & Mental Health and Orygen Youth Health at the University of Melbourne, as well as in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University.

Watch the video of Professor Berk here.