After training in medicine at The University of New South Wales and completing his internship, Professor Pankaj Sah did his PhD at The Australian National University (ANU).
Working with Professor Peter Gage on ion channel function in neurons, he discovered an interest in understanding how neurons in the brain communicate.
Following postdoctoral work at The University of California, San Francisco, and The University of Queensland (UQ), he established his own laboratory at the Department of Physiology at the University of Newcastle in 1994.;
He then joined the John Curtin School of Medical Research at ANU as a group leader in 1997.
In 2003, he was recruited to the Queensland Brain Institute at UQ, and was later appointed as Deputy Director (Research).
Professor Sah’s work has focussed on understanding the mechanisms that underlie learning and memory formation in the mammalian brain.
He is primarily interested in the amygdala – a region important in processing emotions, in particular, assigning emotional significance to sensory stimuli.
Professor Sah’s laboratory is known for studying the amygdala using a combination of molecular tools, electrophysiology, anatomical reconstruction and calcium imaging.
To date the laboratory has focussed on using animal models, however, they are now collaborating with neurologist Professor Peter Silburn, making recordings from patients undergoing electrode placement for deep brain stimulation to treat a variety of disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome and essential tremor.
Most recently, Professor Sah was one of the key members involved in leading a successful grant application, which resulted in $16 million in funding from the Australian Research Council to support the Science of Learning Research Centre (SLRC).
The SLRC brings together neuroscientists, cognitive psychologists and experts in education to understand the learning process.
“This collaboration is unique and will establish new collaborations between scientists working at the bench to understand learning and educators working in classroom to deliver education. This work will be harnessed to design new and practical teaching and classroom assessment tools,” Professor Sah explained.
“It is an exciting new time for neuroscience and our understanding of how the brain learns and responds. These discoveries will not only provide new insights into the treatment of brain disorders but will drive new ways to deliver and assess education in the future.”