Michael Prize 2023 Pharmacology and pharmacotherapy

Piero Perucca

Piero Perucca MD, PhD, is Associate Professor of Adult Epilepsy at the University of Melbourne, Australia, and Director of the Bladin-Berkovic Comprehensive Epilepsy Program at Austin Health, Melbourne. Dr. Perucca obtained his medical and neurology training at the University of Paiva, Italy, and completed his training on clinical and research aspects of epilepsy at Columbia University, New York, and at the Montreal Neurological Institute. He then obtained a PhD from the University of Melbourne. He has made major contributions in diverse areas, including clinical neurophysiology, clinical epileptology, genetics and pharmacology. He is actively involved in several commissions and task forces of the ILAE, including being chair of the Genetics Commission. He has authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications, many with the very active Melbourne epilepsy community.

Dr. Perucca’s research in pharmacology has concentrated on side effects of anti-seizure medication (ASM). He submitted three important publications in this area. In one he studies the adverse effects of ASMs and classifies them in five biologically plausible factors, showing that “when specific classes of adverse effects are identified and attempts are made to reduce them, quality of life is significantly improved.” In a second publication, combining his expertise in pharmacology and genetics, he demonstrated that prenatal exposure to ASMs does not increase the burden of de novo mutations, thus eliminating this mechanism as a cause of ASM-induced birth defects and providing important counseling information. In the third publication, he evaluated the influence of sex on the effect of valproic acid and other ASMs on post-natal developmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder. He found that VPA did not result in the usual predominant presence in males of neurobehavioral effects, thus indicating that VPA may have a stronger effect on females. He also studied the adverse effects of ASMs in new-onset seizures and on mood. He published a review of ASM adverse effects in Lancet Neurology.