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Professional News
NARSAD Awards Scientists For Research Advances
Psychiatric News
Volume 36 Number 17 page 14-32

Advances in psychiatry are helping millions of people with mental illness to recover, and seven outstanding researchers can take some of the credit.

The National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD) bestowed awards on seven researchers on July 27 in New York City at the Klerman and Freedman Awards Dinner.

Myrna Weissman, Ph.D., established the Klerman award in 1994 to honor her late husband, psychiatrist Gerald Klerman, M.D. Klerman was an educator and depression researcher at Yale University, Harvard University Medical School, and Cornell University. He also served as chief of the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration under President Jimmy Carter.

NARSAD’s board of directors established the Freedman awards in 1998 to honor the memory of Daniel X. Freedman, M.D., who became chair of psychiatry at the University of Chicago in 1966 and a few years later, chief editor of the Archives of General Psychiatry. In 1984, Freedman left Chicago to become professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the University of California in Los Angeles. Freedman was also a president of APA.

NARSAD, sponsor of the awards, describes itself as the largest donor-supported organization in the world devoted exclusively to supporting scientific research on psychiatric disorders and has awarded over $112 million in research grants to more than 1,300 scientists since its founding in 1986.

The seventh annual Gerald L. Klerman awards were presented to the following recipients, each of whom received $1,000:

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Recipients of the Klerman and Freedman awards pose after receiving their awards on July 27 at an awards dinner in New York: (left to right) Klerman awardees: Perry Renshaw, M.D., Ph.D; Cameron Carter, M.D.; Joseph Hibbeln, M.D.; and Sarah Lisanby, M.D. Freedman awardees: Michael Caterina, M.D., Ph.D.; Kelsey Martin, M.D., Ph.D.; and Aurelio Galli, Ph.D.

• Joseph Hibbeln, M.D., a psychiatrist and chief of outpatient research in the Laboratory of Membrane Biochemistry and Biophysics at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health. Hibbeln studied the role of omega-3 essential fatty acids, often found in seafood, in a number of psychiatric disorders. Hibbeln and colleagues examined the prevalence of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia in 15 countries and found that greater seafood consumption lowered lifetime prevalence rates of bipolar disorder—but not schizophrenia or anxiety disorders.

"I am honored and grateful to receive the Klerman award from NARSAD," said Hibbeln. "This award is especially meaningful to me because my initial hypothesis in this field linked Dr. Klerman’s data on the increasing prevalence rates of depression to the dietary changes of omega-3 fatty acids during the last century."

• Sarah Lisanby, M.D., an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry and director of the Magnetic Brain Stimulation Lab at Columbia University. She has investigated repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to study the neural systems regulating mood and in the treatment of major depression. Lisanby and her research team were the first to demonstrate the feasibility of using this treatment for depression. Lisanby expressed "a great debt of gratitude to the people with depression who volunteered for my studies with transcranial magnetic stimulation."

• Perry Renshaw, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard University Medical School and director of the Brain Imaging Center at McLean Hospital. Renshaw studied the use of proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy, a new form of low magnetic field stimulation, to guide development of new treatments for mood disorders. Using this technology, Renshaw and colleagues were able to discover altered levels of the brain chemical choline in depressed patients.

Winners of the fourth annual Freedman Award for outstanding achievement in basic science research, each of whom also received $1,000, were:

• Kelsey Martin, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Brain Research Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles. Martin studied synaptic plasticity, which is involved in learning and memory processes in the brain. She researched the molecular mechanisms in the brain related to both long-term and short-term memory.

• Michael Caterina, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of biologic chemistry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Caterina’s research has led to new discoveries about the underlying biology of pain, and how a compound found in hot chili peppers plays a role in activating certain pain receptors.

• Aurelio Galli, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of pharmacology at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio. Galli studied the mechanism by which amphetamines interact with the dopaminergic system in the brain. ▪

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Recipients of the Klerman and Freedman awards pose after receiving their awards on July 27 at an awards dinner in New York: (left to right) Klerman awardees: Perry Renshaw, M.D., Ph.D; Cameron Carter, M.D.; Joseph Hibbeln, M.D.; and Sarah Lisanby, M.D. Freedman awardees: Michael Caterina, M.D., Ph.D.; Kelsey Martin, M.D., Ph.D.; and Aurelio Galli, Ph.D.

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