2017 Healthy Development Adelaide Award

Professor Jozef Gécz

Professor Jozef Gécz was presented with the Healthy Development Adelaide Award at the 13th annual HDA Oration ‘Not born equal, when DNA is in charge'.

Professor Jozef Gécz RNDr, PhD, FAA, FAHMS, FFSc (RCPA) is NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow and Chair for the Prevention of Childhood Disability at the University of Adelaide and SAHMRI. Graduating from the Comenius University in Czechoslovakia in 1986 and completing PhD at the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Jozef spent two years as INSERM fellow at the La Timone Hospital in Marseille, France and the last 23 years at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide. Jozef is a scientist, geneticist with a drive and career motivation to transform the understanding of the causes and underlying mechanisms of neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Oration overview: In ~1 in 50 individuals world-wide the healthy development of the central nervous system is affected by a genetic alteration. These, so-called neurodevelopmental disabilities (NDDs), are a group of primarily intellectual disabilities, epilepsies, autisms and cerebral palsies. They are among the most clinically and genetically heterogeneous disorders which pose a considerable challenge to medicine and our society. In 30 years of my research in this field more than 1000 different NDD genes have been identified, yet we have answers for less than 50% of the sufferers. There is a considerable excess of affected males over affected females although the sex chromosome X contribution is only 10-15%. Whilst finding the causes of NDDs have been rewarding, understanding the disease mechanisms and finding effective treatments remains the major challenge.

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