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NARSAD presents 2007 prizes for outstanding achievement in neuroscience and psychiatric research

NARSAD -- The Worlds Leading Mental Health Research Charity --Presents 2007 Prizes for Outstanding Psychiatric Research at New York Gala, October 19th

Prize winners have significantly contributed to the knowledge and treatment of schizophrenia, depression, anxiety and childhood mental disorders

NEW YORK, N.Y., Oct. 16, 2007Five of the most prestigious awards in psychiatric research will be presented to scientists of great achievement by NARSAD, the worlds leading charity dedicated to mental health research, at its annual New York gala awards dinner later this week. The event takes place Friday evening at the Waldorf Astoria in midtown Manhattan.

NARSAD, celebrating its 20th year of grant-making, has cumulatively awarded more than $219 million in 3,238 research grants to top scientists at 418 institutions in the United States and 26 other countries.

Because of NARSADs distinctive history of contributing to the support and public understanding of neuropsychiatric research, the organization is able each year to recognize those scientists whose career achievements are especially noteworthy. The selections are made by NARSADs distinguished 103-member Scientific Council, after rigorous review and extensive consultation.

This years NARSAD prize recipients have made exceptional contributions to the understanding and treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, autism, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), Tourettes syndrome, and cognitive dysfunctions that underlie many mental illnesses.

The 2007 NARSAD prizes and their recipients are:

  • Lieber Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Schizophrenia Research: Eve C. Johnstone, M.D., is professor of psychiatry and head of the Division of Psychiatry, University of Edinburgh, Scotland. In over 30 years of clinical research, Dr. Johnstone has performed imaging and other anatomical studies of schizophrenia that have provided a substantial body of evidence on the abnormalities of brain structure in people with schizophrenia and on the mechanism of antipsychotic treatments. She led the Edinburgh High Risk Study, which followed teenagers from families with a history of schizophrenia for a 10-year period. She has also led large controlled treatment trials of depressed and anxious patients which, in addition to demonstrating treatment effects, have clarified the nature of these disorders.

    According to William E. Bunney, Jr., M.D., chair of NARSADs Leiber Prize Selection Committee: "Eve Johnstone has made outstanding contributions to the understanding of schizophrenia through decades of research using advanced brain imaging methods to elucidate the structural and functional changes associated with this disorder. She initiated the most replicated finding in the literature on psychosis -- enlargement of the lateral ventricles in the brain. "

  • Falcone Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Mood Disorders Research: Helen S. Mayberg, M.D., is professor of psychiatry and neurology at Emory University School of Medicine. Her functional neuroimaging studies over the past 20 years have systematically examined neural mechanisms implicated in the onset of depression, as well as in the response of patients to various antidepressant treatments including medications, cognitive behavioral therapy and placebo. Dr. Mayberg was instrumental in developing deep brain stimulation, a new intervention being tested for treatment-resistant patients.

    About her work, Robert M. Post, M.D., chair of NARSADs Falcone Prize Selection Committee, wrote: "Dr. Helen Mayberg made seminal contributions to understanding the pathophysiology and prediction of pharmacological treatment response in unipolar and bipolar affective disorders using brain imaging with PET. She then utilized this information to find a key area of the anterior cingulate cortex that she hypothesized would regulate depressed mood and proceeded to stimulate this region electrically using deep brain stimulation. A number of the most treatment-resistant patients who received this treatment have shown remarkable antidepressant responses, and this work has opened a whole new approach to treatment of severely ill patients."

  • Ruane Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Research: James F. Leckman, M.D., is the Neison Harris Professor of Child Psychiatry, Psychiatry, Psychology and Pediatrics at Yale University, where he also serves as the director of research for the Yale Child Study Center. Dr. Leckman is widely recognized as a master clinician in the evaluation and treatment of Tourettes syndrome and early-onset obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

    Judith L. Rapoport, M.D., chair of the Ruane Prize Selection Committee, commented: "Dr. Leckman is a very well known child psychiatrist and patient-oriented clinical investigator. His work has focused on autism, Tourettes syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder. His main interest is in the interaction between genes and environment in Tourettes and OCD. He has also organized one of the premier clinical and research training programs in child psychiatry, which will guarantee excellent clinical research for our next generation."

  • Goldman-Rakic Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Cognitive Neuroscience: Huda Akil, Ph.D., is Gardner Quarton Distinguished University Professor of Neuroscience and Psychiatry and co-director of the Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute at the University of Michigan. Dr. Akil has made seminal contributions to the understanding of the neurobiology of emotions, including pain, anxiety, depression and substance abuse. Early on, she and her colleagues provided the first physiological evidence for a role of endorphins in the brain and showed that endorphins are activated by stress and inhibit pain. In investigations of the mechanisms underlying mechanisms of stress reactivity in anxiety and depression, she demonstrated that social defeat in rodents activates unique neural pathways resembling those altered in human depression.

    Jack D. Barchas, M.D., chair of NARSADs Goldman-Rakic Prize Selection Committee, commented: "Huda Akil has made exceptional contributions to cognitive and systems neuroscience by powerfully advancing our knowledge of the neurobiology of emotions including pain, anxiety, depression and substance abuse. Through her own work and her efforts with colleagues, including her brilliant collaboration with Stanley Watson, she has unraveled key aspects of the role and function of endorphin systems, provided new understanding of stress systems, and undertaken genetic studies that are key to research on mental illness. "

  • The Sidney R. Baer, Jr. Prize for Schizophrenia Research: Jeremy Hall, M.D., Ph.D., is a Medical Research Council Fellow and Honorary Specialist Registrar in Psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Dr. Hall was selected for the Baer Prize by Dr. Johnstone, this years Lieber Prize recipient. Dr. Halls work focuses on the effect of genetic factors on brain structure and function causing risk for major mental illness, particularly schizophrenia. Since 2006, he has been studying genetic factors influencing cognitive function in major mental disorders. This work integrates genetics, neuroimaging and neuropsychology.

(Additional background on the prize recipients is available on request.)

All of the researchers we honor in 2007 have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to research and devised outstanding approaches that are significantly enhancing our understanding and treatment of an area of human illness more devastating than any other, said Herbert Pardes, M.D., president and chief executive officer of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, who serves as president of NARSADs Scientific Council.

NARSAD began awarding prizes in 1987, with the introduction of the Lieber Prize, and over the years added the other prizes as a way to recognize those responsible for outstanding scientific advances in brain science and improved patient psychiatric treatment. Previous winners of NARSADs Lieber Prize include two scientists who subsequently received Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology in 2000: Arvid Carlsson, M.D., of Gothenberg University in Sweden (Lieber Prize, 1994) and Paul Greengard, Ph.D. (Lieber Prize, 1996) of Rockefeller University.

NARSADs 2007 prizes will be presented at the charitys annual New York City fund-raising gala, which will take place at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, 301 Park Avenue, Manhattan. Cocktails begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by the awards program, dinner and dancing. Contributions to NARSAD go entirely to research, because its administration, overhead and fundraising costs have been funded by two family foundations. Tickets can be reserved by calling 516-829-0091 or 800-829-8289

In conjunction with its New York gala, NARSAD will host a free public symposium on some of the latest developments in mental health research, with special attention to the subject of childhood disorders. The symposium takes place on Friday and Saturday, October 19th and 20th, at The Times Center, located at 242 West 41st Street between 7th and 8th Avenues in Manhattan. Those interested in attending are advised to reserve a place in advance by contacting NARSAD at 800-829-8289 or

Contact: Kristen Simone
NARSAD, The Mental Health Research Association

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