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Clinical and Research News
Support of Mental Illness Issues Key Part of Specter’s Legacy
Psychiatric News
Volume 47 Number 22 page 20-21

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, a friend and staunch supporter of biomedical research and of funding for research on mental illness, died October 14. He was 82 years old.

Specter was honored with APA’s Courageous Leadership Award in 2001 for championing the nation’s investment in biomedical research. As a congressional leader, Specter played a pivotal role in the doubling of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget over five years and two administrations and in 2009 assured that funding for NIH and other health agencies was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Psychiatrist David Kupfer, M.D., who is chair of APA’s DSM-5 Task Force, said that Specter’s leadership was transformational. In an interview with Psychiatric News he called Specter “a courageous, articulate, and successful advocate for health research, and especially mental health research, over several decades. He stands alone among his peers as changing the face of NIH health research as we now know it.”

After the economic crisis began a few years ago, Specter supported ARRA and Wall Street reforms. He was also a key backer of the health reform law known as the Affordable Care Act. First elected in 1980, he represented Pennsylvania for 30 years in the Senate. In 2010, Specter lost the Democratic primary in an attempt to retain his Senate seat after switching parties. inline-graphic-1.gif

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