News

Dr Michael Bowen wins Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher



1 September 2016

Dr Michael Bowen, from the School of Psychology in the Faculty of Science, has won the Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher, presented at a gala dinner on 31 August in the Sydney Town Hall.

This is the third year in a row that scientists from the University of Sydney have won this Eureka Prize category, cementing our position as the top organisation in Australia for outstanding early career scientists.

Dr Michael Bowen (right), from the School of Psychology in the Faculty of Science, has won the Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher. Pictured with Professor Trevor Hambley, Dean of the Faculty of Science.
Dr Michael Bowen (right), from the School of Psychology in the Faculty of Science, has won the Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher. Pictured with Professor Trevor Hambley, Dean of the Faculty of Science.

Presented annually by the Australian Museum, the prestigious Eureka Prizes reward excellence in the fields of scientific research and innovation, science leadership, school science and science journalism and communication.

The Eureka Prizes are known as 'the Oscars of Australian Science' and the awards dinner is the largest national celebration of Australian science.

Dr Bowen received his Eureka Prize trophy and $10,000 prize money at the Sydney Town Hall in front of a sold-out audience of distinguished scientists, industry leaders, politicians, journalists, policy makers, philanthropists, school students and science enthusiasts.

He won his Eureka Prize for his research which focuses on discovering and developing novel treatments for serious brain disorders. He has established oxytocin and novel molecules that target the brain's oxytocin system as prime candidates to fill the void left by the lack of effective treatments for alcohol-use disorders and social disorders.

"We face many great challenges in science and medicine in the 21st century. What really makes me proud is that this award is a recognition by the broader scientific community that finding effective treatments for substance use disorders and social disorders are among those great challenges," said Dr Bowen.

"I am hopeful that with this growing recognition, more scientists - young and less young - will think about lending their skills and expertise to the enormous task that lies ahead, as these are problems that no one person can solve.

Dr Michael Bowen won his Eureka Prize for his research which focuses on discovering and developing novel treatments for serious brain disorders. He has established oxytocin and novel molecules that target the brain's oxytocin system as prime candidates to fill the void left by the lack of effective treatments for alcohol-use disorders and social disorders.
Dr Michael Bowen won his Eureka Prize for his research which focuses on discovering and developing novel treatments for serious brain disorders. He has established oxytocin and novel molecules that target the brain's oxytocin system as prime candidates to fill the void left by the lack of effective treatments for alcohol-use disorders and social disorders.

"Science is very much about teamwork, and I've had the privilege of working with many great scientists throughout my career, but a few of my mentors warrant special mention: Professor Inga Neumann from the University of Regensburg, Professor Mary Collins from the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Sydney, and Professor Iain McGregor from the School of Psychology at the University of Sydney.

"There is a saying that you can't build a great building on a weak foundation, and I've been fortunate to have been provided with the strongest of foundations."

Dr Bowen's novel treatments targeting the brain oxytocin system, are aimed at substance-use disorders and social disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder. These are some of the most prevalent and devastating disorders in the world.

Using rodent models, he provided the first demonstration that exogenously administered oxytocin is able to powerfully inhibit alcohol consumption in both the short‐ and long‐term. He has also shown that oxytocin blocks alcohol's ability to act at key addiction pathways in the brain, and is currently involved in a phase II clinical trial to translate these effects in humans.

Dr Bowen is also one of the lead inventors of a series of small molecules that powerfully stimulate the brain oxytocin system, overcoming some of the limitations of administering oxytocin itself. He and his team are soon to start clinical trials testing one of these molecules in humans.

"Thank you to the University of Sydney, the Faculty of Science and the School of Psychology for supporting me to be bold and always push the limits of what I think is possible in my research and aspirations," said Dr Bowen.

"The fact that this is the third year in a row that an academic within the Faculty of Science at the University of Sydney has won this award is testament to all of the great work the Faculty and University more broadly are doing to attract, support and retain top early career researchers."

Watch Dr Michael Bowen talking about his Eureka Prize winning research:


Contact: Katynna Parry

Phone: (02) 9351 6997

Email: 1d221e090a1929421f504b2430781c10135f154176111c3e4b511b