Christopher Gillberg.
Photo: Emelie Asplund

Christopher Gillberg receives the 2024 Arvid Carlsson Prize

AWARD. Christopher Gillberg, senior professor of child and adolescent psychiatry, is now being honored for his work in the spirit of Arvid Carlsson. The Arvid Carlsson Foundation awards him its prestigious prize, which, in addition to the honor, includes a research grant of 700,000 SEK.

Christopher Gillberg is ranked as one of the world's most influential researchers and is the most productive autism researcher globally. He is the author of over 800 peer-reviewed scientific articles covering topics such as autism, ADHD, Tourette's syndrome, and intellectual disabilities. His research spans from basic genetics, neurochemistry, and physiology to clinical interventions, treatments, and outcomes.

Christopher Gillberg is awarded the prize for his extensive, thematically broad, and clinically highly relevant research that has shaped the international view of neuropsychiatric disorders such as autism and ADHD. He works as a researcher and clinician at the research center he helped establish, which bears his name: Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre.

An inspiration

He finds it fantastic to receive the prestigious Arvid Carlsson Prize:

Portrait picture
Christopher Gillberg.
Photo: Emelie Asplund

"Arvid Carlsson has always inspired me in my work. We were also neighbors for forty years, and we used to greet each other when we saw each other on the street on our way to our respective workplaces. But in terms of research, we only collaborated once, in a study on brain hemisphere transfer in autism in the early 2000s," says Christopher Gillberg, who is currently in South Africa on a research and lecture tour.

Christopher Gillberg is the originator of ESSENCE, a concept that emphasizes the overlap between various developmental neurological/neuropsychiatric issues, which are often erroneously considered as separate conditions, such as ADHD, autism, motor disorders, speech-language disorders, and intellectual disabilities. It is common for these conditions to co-occur, two or more within the same individual.

"Currently, we are working on the follow-up of individuals with ESSENCE whom we have followed from early childhood in some cases up to the ages of 40-60," says Christopher Gillberg.

Knowledge provides understanding

Christopher Gillberg believes it is important to remind oneself of the origin of the term diagnosis, namely from the Greek "Via Gnosis" ("through knowledge").

"We need to gather as much knowledge as possible about the disabling symptoms collectively referred to as a condition, and that is the essence of the word diagnosis. Through increased knowledge of ESSENCE, individuals and families, schools, healthcare, and society as a whole can understand and make adjustments. This can drastically reduce disabilities and improve prognosis," says Christopher Gillberg, adding, "ESSENCE is the most significant public health problem of our time, and our group at the Gillberg Center is doing what we can to, through knowledge, reduce the scope of 'bleak forecasts.'"

Photo: Emelie Asplund

The Gillberg Center is also internationally leading in research on PANS (Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome). The syndrome may include, among other things, acute-onset obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or eating disorders with dramatic symptom development. Research at the Gillberg Center focuses on how common the syndrome is, possible underlying causes, and the best treatment approaches.

Two more awardees

The Arvid Carlsson Foundation also awards two smaller prizes. These go to Konstantinos Meletis, professor at the Karolinska Institute, and Dag Nyholm, professor at Uppsala University. Konstantinos Meletis is rewarded for his skilful use of modern, sophisticated molecular biology techniques to address psychiatry-relevant questions in animal experimental studies. Dag Nyholm is honored for his diverse clinical research focusing on Parkinson's disease, and especially for his valuable contributions to the important task of optimizing the treatment of this condition. Meletis and Nyholm each receive a grant of 400,000 SEK.

The award ceremony takes place in Gothenburg on May 30.