Scientific Advisory Board Chair
Dr John Hopwood AM FAA - SAHMRI
Professor John Hopwood is the recently retired Director of the Lysosomal Diseases Research Unit (LDRU) previously at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, now at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), Adelaide, Australia. The Unit is world-renowned for its research into the diagnosis, treatment and biology of lysosomal diseases including the Mucopolysaccharidoses (MPS) group of metabolic disorders.
Professor Hopwood has dedicated four decades of research into genetically inherited disorders that affect children including Sanfilippo Syndrome.
His many accolades include a Member of the Order of Australia, SA Scientist of the Year, Australian Academy of Science Fellow as well as various medals for his work in biomedical science. He is an affiliate Professor in the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Adelaide and Department of Pharmacy at the University of South Australia.
Professor Hopwood has made the research of metabolic disorders his life-long work. Born in Melbourne, and educated at the Swinburne Institute and then earned a PhD in biochemistry at Monash University, he moved to Chicago in 1972 as a Fullbright scholar and Joseph P Kennedy Fellow Neuroscientist under Albert Dorfman. It was here that he first met a family with an MPS child (a little boy with Hurler Syndrome) and he was ‘hooked’.
After living and working in Sweden at the University of Uppsala, he returned to Adelaide Australia in 1976 to establish the LDRU. Professor Hopwood and his team were the first to isolate and characterise the genes involved in several lysosomal storage disorders [including MPS IIIA, IIIB and IIID] some of which now provide approved therapies or are under evaluation in human clinical trials.
These research outcomes have helped improve quality of life for many patients around the world living with MPS. Without this LDRU effort, many thousands would be without diagnosis, therapy or hope.
A man of the people, Professor Hopwood is particularly passionate about meeting families and patients living with MPS and learning about their day-to-day challenges with the disease. He regularly meets with families at national and international conferences and in an interview describes this as an inspiring and very important part of the work that he does.
John and Barbara Hopwood feel privileged to enjoy and experience three sons and six grandchildren. Beside these fascinations and delights, he enjoys bush walking, world travel and gaining an understanding of the science in nature.