Brian Dean receives outstanding schizophrenia research award

The Schizophrenia International Research Society has named Professor Brian Dean as their 2019 Outstanding Basic Research Awardee.

Professor Brian Dean currently holds senior positions at The Florey, The Centre for Mental Health, Swinburne University and The University of Melbourne. Professor Dean completed his studies for a Doctoral Degree at The University of Melbourne.

Professor Dean’s research philosophy is that, as in all other illnesses, there are changes in biochemical pathways in individuals with schizophrenia that cause the symptoms experienced by those with the disorder.

To identify biochemical pathways that are affected by schizophrenia Professor Dean has sought to identify changes in the molecular cytoarchitecture of post-mortem CNS from subjects with schizophrenia as these changes represent markers of changed biochemical activity in the brain.

On identifying changes in molecular markers in the brain of individuals with schizophrenia, Professor Dean uses cellular and animal models to understand how such changes will impact on brain function. Professor Dean’s work has made a significant contribution to understanding the roles of muscarinic receptors, serotonin receptors, cytokine-regulated pathways and changed gene expression in causing, and as potential drug targets for, schizophrenia.

His work on muscarinic receptors has contributed to an effort to develop drugs targeting the muscarinic M1 receptor for the treatment of schizophrenia. Professor Dean has now reached the point in his career where some of his basic research findings are being translated into the clinic.

This is being achieved by collaborations with clinical colleagues and involves the use of a newly synthesised PET muscarinic receptor radioligand to measure brain receptor levels in people with schizophrenia and to use a newly discovered technology to develop a diagnostic test for the disorder.

In recognition of his contribution to the field, Professor Dean has been made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology and is a Director and Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Rebecca Cooper Medical Research Foundation which is a philanthropic organisation that has a focus on funding early career researchers investigating brain disorders.

Professor Dean received the Outstanding Basic Research Award at the 2019 International Congress of the Schizophrenia International Research Society in Orlando, Florida.