Annual Meeting
Lecture Series Features Leading Researchers
Psychiatric News
Volume 40 Number 9 page 44-51

Current-day psychiatry includes a number of evolving concepts, from structural neuropathology to psychodynamic psychiatry to community and social psychiatry. The revolutionary advances in psychopharmacology, molecular biology, functional brain imaging, and genetics have successfully brought psychiatry closer to mainstream medicine. The psychiatrists chosen to participate in the Distinguished Psychiatrist Lecture Series at APA's 2005 annual meeting in Atlanta represent excellence in these areas.

Eric Kandel, M.D., a professor of physiology and psychiatry at Columbia University and the Nobel Prize winner in medicine in 2000, will talk about animal models of psychiatric disorders, and the latest science in the understanding of the brain, the nervous system, and human behavior. He will discuss the impact of molecular biology, the mechanisms underlying the developmental processes, and the pathogenesis of disease. His expertise is in the cognitive neuroscience of perception, planning, motivation, and memory.

Laura Roberts, M.D., a professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin, has received numerous teaching awards. As editor-in-chief of Academic Psychiatry, she has written extensively on clinical and research ethics, informed consent, educational scholarship, end-of-life care, and ethical issues arising in the care of people with a stigmatizing illness. She has also investigated the role of frontier clinicians vs. rural clinicians in mental health care delivery.

Stuart Yudofsy, M.D., a professor and chair of the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Baylor College of Medicine, treats psychiatric patients with neurological conditions resulting from, for example, stroke or Parkinson's disease. A significant percentage of these patients experience painful and disabling symptoms including aggression, agitation, psychosis, depression, anxiety, apathy, and impairment of memory and cognition. His pioneering work has focused on providing appropriate treatment instead of sedation, which can have devastating consequences.

In his lecture Yudofsky will focus on neuropsychology and the future of neurology and psychiatry, tracing the development of the two disciplines. He will discuss how both scientific advances and cultural factors are compelling the reintegration of the specialties. He will propose a model curriculum to help psychiatric professionals benefit the patients we serve.

Robert Freedman, M.D., a professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, is a researcher in the application of basic findings in neurobiology and molecular biology to the treatment of psychosis. Freedman's work is potentially important in two ways: First, the new therapeutic target he has identified for psychosis is hoped to result in the development of clinically useful new treatment. Second, he hopes to pave the way for other investigators who want to translate their ideas about neurobiology of mental illness to the bedside. An expert in both neurobiology and clinical psychiatry, he observed that people with schizophrenia are sensitive to sensory stimuli and conducted studies that led him to a trial of a new nicotinic agonist in the treatment of schizophrenia. This may be a way to reduce the very high levels of tobacco use in these patients. In his lecture Freedman will discuss basic findings in neurobiology and molecular biology for the treatment of psychosis.

Randolph Nesse, M.D., is a professor of psychiatry and director of the ISR Evolution and Human Adaptation program at the University of Michigan. As editor of the book Evolution and the Capacity for Commitment, he explores the question of whether the capacity for making, assessing, and keeping commitments has been shaped by natural selection. He explains why natural selection has left humans vulnerable to so many diseases. He applies these principles to the question of why humans are so vulnerable to depression. Using an evolutionary framework, he has described the quest for happiness, which has expanded from a focus on relieving suffering to promoting happiness. His unique research focuses on the evolutionary origins of the capacities for positive and negative emotions. He has focused on applying psychological theory to the study of religion, the role of stress, and adaptation in vulnerable patients. ▪

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