May 5, 2006

Iowa’s Andreasen to receive first Vanderbilt Prize

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Nancy Andreasen, M.D., Ph.D.

Iowa’s Andreasen to receive first Vanderbilt Prize

Nancy Andreasen, M.D., Ph.D., has been selected as the recipient of the first “Vanderbilt Prize in Biomedical Science,” an award established by Vanderbilt University School of Medicine to honor women who have made significant advances in the biological and biomedical sciences and have contributed positively to the mentorship of other women in science.

Andreasen, the Andrew H. Woods Chair of Psychiatry at the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and director of the Iowa Mental Health Clinical Research Center, is a renowned neuropsychiatrist, public servant, educator and mentor.

As the Vanderbilt Prize recipient, Andreasen will receive $25,000 and will have a scholarship established in her name to support a promising M.D./Ph.D. candidate beginning her studies at Vanderbilt. This year's scholarship recipient is Mica Bergman from Pittsburgh. Andreasen also will serve on Bergman's thesis committee as a condition of the award.

“Our goal was to create an award that would both recognize an outstanding woman scientist as well as provide a career development opportunity for one of our students,” said Steven Gabbe, M.D., dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “Dr. Andreasen's active support of the careers of other scientists — particularly women investigators — is especially noteworthy.”

One of the world's foremost authorities on schizophrenia, Andreasen has published more than 500 scholarly articles. She was an early pioneer in applying neuroimaging techniques to study the neural basis of major mental illness. Her work was among the first to suggest that schizophrenia was linked to abnormal brain development, and that a decrease in the size of the brain's frontal lobe was associated with the 'negative symptoms' of the disorder, including impaired cognitive function.

Andreasen's research has also provided significant insight into the brain mechanisms underlying language, emotion and the creative process. She led the first extensive empirical study of creativity and was the first to recognize the association between creativity and manic-depressive illness.

In addition to her numerous scientific publications, Andreasen also has published 15 books, including a “brain trilogy” written to educate lay readers about neuroscience and mental illness. One of these books, "Brave New Brain: Conquering Mental Illness in the Era of the Genome," published in 2000, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

Andreasen has received numerous awards including the President's National Medal of Science, and is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. She has also served as editor of The American Journal of Psychiatry, the leading journal in the field, for 13 years.

"I am deeply honored to be the first recipient of the 'Vanderbilt Prize for Biomedical Science,'” Andreasen said. “I am especially honored because this prize recognizes not only doing good science, but also the mentoring of other scientists. Helping to nurture the next generation of scientists is one of the most important things a senior scientist can do."

Her leadership in mentoring women in science is illustrated by her successful nomination of several female colleagues to membership in the Institute of Medicine and other prominent institutions and her unending dedication to the support and training of female scientists.

"Dr. Andreasen is a dedicated researcher and educator at all levels of medical training. She is a champion for women in science and has been an exceptional mentor to women pursuing scientific careers," said Jean Robillard, M.D., dean of the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. "Dr. Andreasen also has made major contributions to the general public's understanding of mental illness and how the brain works. We are delighted that she is the first recipient of this distinctive honor from Vanderbilt."

A total of 48 nominations were received from across the country. Selection was based on scientific achievement demonstrated by the publication of peer-reviewed research, leadership in biomedical science and positive contribution to the mentorship of other women in science.

“Selection of the winner of the Vanderbilt Prize was extremely difficult because of the overall excellence of the nominees,” said John Exton, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and member of the selection committee.

“Nevertheless, Dr. Andreasen stood out from the rest because of her recognition as one of the world's leading neuropsychiatrists and because of her exceptional and tireless mentoring of women pursuing a career in science.”

“This is truly an investment in the future of women in science through the outstanding mentors, such as Dr. Andreasen, that the Vanderbilt Prize will provide for our students,” Gabbe said.