Professor Ingrid Scheffer is a physician-scientist whose work as a paediatric neurologist and epileptologist at the University of Melbourne and Florey Institute has led the field of epilepsy genetics over more than 20 years, in collaboration with Professor Samuel Berkovic and molecular geneticists. This resulted in identification of the first epilepsy gene and many more genes subsequently. Professor Scheffer has described many novel epilepsy syndromes and performed genotype-phenotype correlation. She recently played a key role in the first major reclassification of the epilepsies in two decades as Chair of the International League Against Epilepsy Commission for Classification and Terminology.
She obtained her medical degree from Monash University and her PhD from the University of Melbourne for which she received the Chancellor’s Award. She trained in paediatrics at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, paediatric neurology at The Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, London UK, and epileptology at the Austin Hospital. In her PhD on the genetics of the epilepsies, she described four novel epilepsy syndromes which served as the basis for gene discovery.
She has received many awards: 2007 American Epilepsy Society Clinical Research Recognition Award, 2009 RACP Eric Susman Prize, 2013 GSK Award for Research Excellence, ILAE Ambassador for Epilepsy Award, 2013 Australian Neuroscience Medallion, 2013 Emil Becker Prize for child neurology and the L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science Laureate for the Asia-Pacific region for 2012. In 2014, she was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences. She was awarded the Order of Australia in 2014 for “distinguished service to medicine in the field of paediatric neurology as a clinician, academic and mentor, and to research into the identification of epilepsy syndromes and genes”. Together with Professor Sam Berkovic, she was awarded the 2014 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science.