Neuropsychiatrist honoured by University of Athens

July 15 / 163

L-R Professor Sfikakis (Dean of Medical School, University of Athens), Professor Christos Pantelis, Professor Nikos Stefanis (Professor of Psychiatry, University of Athens), Professor George Polimeneas (Vice Rector of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens). Photo: Panagiota Karastergiou
L-R Professor Sfikakis (Dean of Medical School, University of Athens), Professor Christos Pantelis, Professor Nikos Stefanis (Professor of Psychiatry, University of Athens), Professor George Polimeneas (Vice Rector of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens). Photo: Panagiota Karastergiou

 

Professor Christos Pantelis has been awarded the Doctor Honoris Causa (Honorary Doctorate) from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in recognition of his work in schizophrenia and psychosis in adolescence and childhood. 

 

Professor Pantelis, Scientific Director of the Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre, was in Greece, delivering the opening keynote address at the 2015 World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry (WFSBP) Congress, when he was conferred the highest distinction awarded by the University of Athens.

 

In a rich and moving ceremony, with lavish regalia and some elements of ancient Greek, Professor Pantelis, was honoured in his family’s homeland.  

 

“Personally, it had quite an impact, and allowed me to reflect on my cultural heritage, “ he said. “To be acknowledged in this way by the University of Athens was a big honour.”

 

Professor Pantelis, who was listed in Thomson Reuters' World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds for 2014, is known for his work in early schizophrenia and psychosis.

 

In research published in Lancet in 2003, Professor Pantelis and his team were the first researchers to map brain changes during early psychosis and schizophrenia, contextualising their findings in terms of the dynamic brain maturational changes occurring in adolescence. 

 

In a more recent study published in the highly influential JAMA Psychiatry, Professor Pantelis and his team examined maturation of brain networks during adolescence in the unaffected siblings of those suffering with childhood schizophrenia, studying what makes some people resilient.

 

This has allowed new directions in the area, in particular a shift in focus from ‘risk' to 'protective factors', and Professor Pantelis’ research has started to include children at younger ages, from 8-10, who are displaying risk markers.

 

“We can then look at the impact of risk and protective factors on brain trajectories over time, including the effects of stress, cannabis and other drug use, the influence of genetic factors, as well as the impact of treatments. We are seeking to identify protective factors and, hopefully, we may be able to make impactful changes at critical periods,” he said. 

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