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Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Honors Nine Scientists for Outstanding Achievements in Psychiatric Research at 29th Annual Dinner

Brain & Behavior Research Foundation
Posted on: 31 Oct 16

PR Newswire

NEW YORK, Oct. 31, 2016

NEW YORK, Oct. 31, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation honored nine scientists with its 2016 Outstanding Achievement Prizes for their work in schizophrenia, mood disorders, child and adolescent psychiatry, and cognitive neuroscience. The award presentation took place on Friday, October 28th at the Foundation's 29th Annual National Awards Dinner, celebrating the transformative power of neuroscience and psychiatric research to improve the lives of people with mental illness, which affects one in five people.

According to Foundation President and CEO Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D., the Outstanding Achievement Prizes, which cover five categories, are among the most prestigious awards in the field of psychiatric research. The recipients were selected by the Foundation's Scientific Council, comprised of 173 leading experts across disciplines in brain and behavior research, including two Nobel laureates; the current director of the National Institute of Mental Health and four former directors; four recipients of the National Medal of Science; 13 members of the National Academy of Sciences; 26 chairs of psychiatry and neuroscience departments at leading medical institutions; and 55 members of the National Academy of Medicine.

"These scientists have dedicated their lives to understanding complex psychiatric conditions in order to help millions of affected people and their families," said Dr. Borenstein. "We are proud to honor them and highlight the inspiring work of these outstanding scientists, teachers and mentors."

The 2016 Outstanding Achievement Prizewinners are as follows:

The Lieber Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Schizophrenia Research
The Lieber Prize was established in 1987 by the late Constance E. Lieber, Foundation President Emerita, and her husband,Stephen A. Lieber, Chair of the Foundation's Board of Directors.

Michael F. Green, Ph.D., Professor, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA; Director VA Research Enhancement Award Program (REAP) on Enhancing Community Integration for Homeless Veterans; and Director Treatment Unit, VA VISN 22 Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC)

Dr. Green's clinical research laboratory explores the relationship between cognitive and social cognitive impairments in schizophrenia and activities of daily living. His team also explores the neural mechanisms of cognitive and social cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Dr. Green is a leading researcher in the evaluation of social cognitive retraining and novel pharmacological interventions to improve cognitive impairments. His laboratory also studies the determinants of community integration for homeless veterans, many of whom have psychotic disorders. His identification of the importance of cognition in schizophrenia launched the national Measurement and Treatment Research to Improve Cognition in Schizophrenia (MATRICS) effort, and stimulated novel and innovative treatments for cognitive dysfunction.

Stephen R. Marder , M.D., Daniel X. Freedman Professor of Psychiatry, Vice Chair for Education in Psychiatry and Director, Section on Psychosis, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA; Director VA Desert Pacific MIRECC; NARSAD Distinguished Investigator 2011.

During his career, Dr. Marder has focused on pharmacological and non-pharmacological approaches to improving the outcomes of serious mental illnesses, particularly schizophrenia. His clinical intervention research began with studies that evaluated strategies for reducing adverse side effects of antipsychotic medications, and studies that evaluated the interactions of psychosocial interventions and pharmacological approaches to improving the outcome of serious mental illnesses. Together with Dr. Green, his fellow Lieber Prize recipient, he led the NIMH-MATRICS initiative, which addressed key issues in the development of medications for improving cognition in schizophrenia.

The Maltz Prize for Innovative & Promising Schizophrenia Research
Established in 2005, the prize was renamed in 2016 in honor of Board Members Milton and Tamar Maltz. The Maltz Prize is awarded to an investigator who has undertaken innovative and promising research in schizophrenia. Winners are selected by the Lieber Prize recipient(s) of the same year.

William P. Horan , Ph.D., Research Psychologist, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences University of California, Los Angles; Clinical Research Psychologist, Veterans Administration Greater Los Angeles; Faculty VA VISN 22 MIRECC; NARSAD Young Investigator 2008 and 2004

Dr. Horan conducts translational research to identify factors that contribute to difficulties in community integration among people with schizophrenia and other forms of psychosis, and has been a leader in the development of innovative treatments that may help patients improve the quality of their lives. More recently, he has begun applying this translational research approach to investigations of bipolar disorder and homelessness. In addition, he has focused on the development and validation of the Social Cognitive Skills Training Program for people with psychosis. The goal of this research is to develop new treatments that enable people with psychosis to live independently, pursue personally meaningful vocational and educational goals, and develop more satisfying social networks in the community. His work has led to a deeper understanding of the impairments in motivation and social behaviors that affect the lives of many people with schizophrenia, previously viewed by most clinicians as untreatable, and led to a new sense of optimism that these problems can be addressed in the clinic.

Amanda McCleery , Ph.D., Assistant Research Psychologist, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System VISN 22 MIRECC; NARSAD Young Investigator 2015

Dr. McCleery's research focuses on cognitive predictors of functional outcome in schizophrenia and related conditions. Her recent work uses EEG techniques in conjunction with performance-based measures to better understand the nature of the relationships between early-stage information processing, higher-order cognition, and community functioning across phases of illness in schizophrenia.  Her work is also informed by developmental psychopathology in order to gain a nuanced understanding of the trajectory of cognition over the course of illness to identify potential critical periods and targets for intervention, as well as possible mechanisms of change.

The Colvin Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Mood Disorders Research
Established in 1993 the prize was re-named in 2012 to honor a Foundation supporter, the late Oliver D. Colvin, Jr., who bequeathed the largest single contribution in the Foundation's history. 

Francis J. McMahon , M.D., Senior Investigator and Chief Human Genetics Branch National Institute of Mental Health Intramural Research Program; NARSAD Independent Investigator 2006 and 1998, and Young Investigator 1994

Dr. McMahon's research is aimed at discovering and characterizing genes involved in mood and anxiety disorders in order to develop better methods of diagnosis and treatment. For more than a decade, his work has focused on pharmacogenomics, including genetic studies of antidepressant outcome, lithium response, and treatment-resistant depression. Still in its early stages, pharmacogenomics underlies the increasing interest in personalized and precision medicine, promising to reduce trial and error in the selection of the most effective treatments, while minimizing adverse events.

Thomas G. Schulze , M.D., Professor and Director Institute of Psychiatric Phenomics and Genomics (IPPG) Medical Center of the University of Munich; Adjunct Faculty, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University; Associate Investigator Human Genetics Branch, National Institute of Mental Health Intramural Program; NARSAD Young Investigator 2007 and 2002

Dr. Schulze's research focuses on genotype-phenotype relationships in psychiatric disorders. He coordinates a German-wide center grant on longitudinal psychosis research and spearheads an international study on the genetic basis of response to lithium treatment in bipolar disorder, comprising several research groups from Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Australia. In addition, he and his team have embarked on population-based genetic studies in Ethiopia, focusing on the interplay of khat abuse (a plant that is used as a drug), trauma, and psychosis. Within the framework of a German government-funded, multi-site network, he is entrusted with the job of setting up a national federated biobanking and phenotyping platform.

Pamela Sklar , M.D., Ph.D., Founding Chief, Division of Psychiatric Genomics, Vice-Chair, Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences, Professor, Departments of Psychiatry, Neuroscience, and Genetics and Genomic Sciences, Icahn School of Medicine Mount Sinai; Foundation Scientific Council Member, NARSAD Independent Investigator 2006, and Young Investigator 1998 and 1995

Dr. Sklar's pioneering work in the genetic basis of bipolar disorder has led to a new understanding of the condition and potential treatments. In addition to her breakthrough discovery that schizophrenia is caused by genetic risk factors that overlap with bipolar disorder, Dr. Sklar's lab identified the first replicated genetic finding in bipolar disorder, identified two novel deletions strongly associated with schizophrenia, and identified the complex polygenic molecular nature of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Dr. Sklar is developing programs in genetics and translational research in the areas of next-generation sequencing, stem cell biology, proof-of-concept drug trials, and large-scale sample collections. Her team, comprised of experts in statistical genetics, stem cell biology, neurocognition, and imaging, is pioneering ways to translate genetic insights into the clinical practice of psychiatry.

The Ruane Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Research
The Ruane Prize was initiated in 2000 by philanthropists Joy and William Ruane, and recognizes significant advances in research toward the understanding and treatment of early-onset brain and behavior disorders.

John L.R. Rubenstein , M.D., Ph.D., Nina Ireland Distinguished Professor in Child Psychiatry, University of California at San Francisco; Foundation Scientific Council Member, NARSAD Distinguished Investigator 1997, and Young Investigator 1992 and 1990

Dr. Rubenstein's genetic analyses of frontal lobe development led to identification of genes that are associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders. He has made major contributions to understanding fundamental mechanisms of forebrain development, including studies on forebrain organization, patterning centers, transcription factors that control regional specification of brain and craniofacial subdivisions, the linking of regional and cell type specification in the telencephalon, the demonstration that cortical inhibitory neurons are generated in the basal ganglia and tangentially migrate to the cortex, and the postnatal differentiation of cortical inhibitory neurons. His studies have implications on mechanisms underlying several developmental disorders, such as autism and epilepsy.

The Goldman-Rakic Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Cognitive Neuroscience
The Goldman-Rakic Prize was created by Constance and Stephen Lieber in memory of Dr.Patricia Goldman-Rakic, a neuroscientist renowned for discoveries about the brain's frontal lobe, who died in an automobile accident in 2003.

Earl K. Miller , Ph.D., Picower Professor of Neuroscience, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Building on Pat Goldman-Rakic's groundbreaking studies, Dr. Miller's work in primates has broken new ground in the understanding of cognition. Using innovative experimental and theoretical approaches to study the neural basis of high-level cognitive functions, his laboratory has provided insights into how categories, concepts, and rules are learned, how attention is focused, and how the brain coordinates thought and action. The laboratory has innovated techniques for studying the activity of many neurons in multiple brain areas simultaneously, providing insight into how different brain structures interact and collaborate. This work has established a foundation upon which to construct more detailed, mechanistic accounts of how executive control is implemented in the brain and its dysfunction in diseases such as autism, schizophrenia and attention deficit disorder, and has led to new approaches relevant to severe mental illnesses in children and adults.

About the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation
The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation is committed to alleviating the suffering of mental illness by awarding grants that will lead to advances and breakthroughs in scientific research. The Foundation funds the most innovative ideas in neuroscience and psychiatry to better understand the causes and develop new ways to treat brain and behavior disorders. These disorders include depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Since 1987, the Foundation has awarded more than $360 million to fund more than 5,000 grants to more than 4,000 leading scientists around the world. This has led to over $3.5 billion in additional funding for these scientists. The Foundation is also dedicated to educating the public about mental health and the importance of research, including the impact that new discoveries have on improving the lives of those with mental illness, which will ultimately enable people to live full, happy and productive lives. For more information, visit www.bbrfoundation.org.

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SOURCE Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

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Last updated on: 31/10/2016

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