An internationally renowned lead researcher from the Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery (ACMD), Professor Mark Cook, has been named an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AO).
Professor Cook received the AO for distinguished service to neurological medicine and research through contributions to the treatment of epilepsy.
Dr Erol Harvey, CEO of ACMD said, “Mark has been one of the architects and visionaries behind the concept of ACMD, and his persistence has got us to where we are today. His leadership and commitment to patients through his ground-breaking epilepsy research is an exemplar of the type of transformative work our ACMD teams all aspire to.
“On behalf of the ACMD Board, I wish to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Professor Cook this fitting recognition receiving one of Australia’s highest honours. His extraordinary contributions to epilepsy medicine, his commitment to his patient and his life-changing research,” said Erol Harvey.
Over the course of his career, Professor Cook has demonstrated an enduring commitment to improving the lives of people with epilepsy and other neurological conditions.
Professor Cook, Director of Neurology and Chair of Medicine at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, is currently leading two world-first international research projects in collaboration with partners at the ACMD.
One of the projects, the Cerebral Therapeutics project, is assessing a novel approach to treating drug-resistant focal seizures
The other, Epiminder project, is developing an implant to monitor brain-seizure activity.
In his 30-plus years as a neurologist, Professor Cook has remained strongly committed to improving the lives of people living with epilepsy. Under his directorship, the St Vincent’s Neurology Department is now one of the largest units in Australia for the surgical treatment of epilepsy. He has also co-founded two start-up companies investigating innovative epilepsy management applications.
Professor Cook’s has had more than 400 journal articles published on his epilepsy research and his work is internationally renowned and celebrated.
His dad, who was diagnosed with epilepsy as an adult, inspired Professor Cook’s area of focus.
“My father was a chef. Through his work, our family travelled the world. He inspired my love for cooking, too. I was 20 years old when he developed epilepsy. He was 45 and his world suddenly changed forever,” Professor Cook recalls.
“I remember how the unpredictability of his seizures transformed his life and his mood. Eventually, he was forced to give up his work – something he really enjoyed. This caused him great distress – he lost his purpose, sense of self-worth, his drive and the ability to do something he was so passionate about.”
“What I’m most passionate about is practical outcomes – that has always been my focus. Whilst I’ve been interested in research and the academic aspects of my work, I’m most interested in developments which lead directly to practical and useful outcomes for patients, ” said Mark Cook.