George Paxinos3

Brain navigator a NSW winner

The 2015 NSW Premier’s Prizes for Science & Engineering have recognised the achievements and contributions of NeuRA’s Scientia Professor George Paxinos AO through the awarding of the ‘Excellence in Medical Biological Sciences’ Prize.

The Prizes highlight cutting-edge research that has generated economic, environmental, health, social and technological benefits for NSW. The Excellence in Biological Sciences category is awarded to a researcher in the Biological Sciences who has demonstrated an outstanding role and impact in this field.

Prof Paxinos is an NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow at Neuroscience Research Australia and Scientia Professor at The University of New South Wales. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and a corresponding member of the Academy of Athens.

After completing high school in Ithaca, Greece, he received his BA in psychology at The University of California at Berkeley and his PhD at McGill University. Following a postdoctoral year at Yale University, he came to UNSW where he used the chemical phenotype of neurons as a criterion for identifying brain regions and for establishing brain correspondences across experimental animals and humans.

In 1982, he and Prof Charles Watson published The Rat Brain in Stereotaxic Coordinates, the third most cited book in science. He has published another 45 books on the structure of the brain and spinal cord of humans and experimental animals.

Prof Paxinos’ atlases are helpful to those who study diseases of the human brain. His work allows scientists and clinicians to navigate seamlessly between the brain of humans and experimental animals to test hypotheses inspired by human considerations and relate their observations to humans.

Most scientists working on the relationship between the brain and neurologic or psychiatric diseases use Prof Paxinos’ atlases and concepts of brain organisation. In the past 5 years, he published (a) the first comprehensive atlases of the spinal cord of the rat, mouse, monkey and human and revealed the connections between brain and spinal cord in the mouse, (b) the first comprehensive and accurate MRI atlas, (c) The Marmoset Brain in Stereotaxic Coordinates, and (d) new editions of his atlases of the brain of the rat, mouse, rhesus monkey and human and developmental atlases of the rat and mouse.