The ‘Magellan’ of brain mapping elected to the Academy of Athens

A pioneering Australian brain mapper has been elected to the Academy of Athens, the chief scientific body of his birthplace, Greece.

Prof George Paxinos AO, based at Neuroscience Research Australia, is widely known for his extensive work exploring and mapping brains, and is often likened to Ferdinand Magellan, the 15th century explorer.

Having authored 42 books and over 160 research papers, Paxinos’ work has had a remarkable impact on our understanding of the structure and function of the brain and spinal cord.

His book ‘The Rat Brain in Stereotaxic Coordinates’ is the third most cited scientific book of all time.

Even though his books line the shelves of global research libraries and his findings are drawn upon daily, Prof Paxinos was deeply honoured by the Academy of Athens’ decision to include him as a member.

“The Academy only admits about two scientists per year, so this is an honour not frequently awarded. Because of this, and my emotional and cultural connection to Greece, for me this is the most significant recognition my work has received”, Prof Paxinos says.

Originally from Ithaca in Greece, Prof Paxinos completed his undergraduate and postgraduate training in the US and Canada. He then settled in Sydney in 1973 where he set about mapping the brain in a way never previously attempted.

“Brain researchers, no less than geographers, need maps and coordinate systems to navigate the brain and communicate their observations to each other. On a map of the brain we can superimpose types of neurons, neurotransmitters, enzymes, and connectivity and functional data”, says Prof Paxinos.

“We are continuing to develop and refine brain atlases of humans and experimental animals which are used internationally as the standard guides for scientific work and by neurosurgeons to target small deep lying structures in the brain”, says Prof Paxinos.