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Release: Oct. 12, 1999

Institute of Medicine recognizes UI psychiatrist for research

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A University of Iowa Health Care psychiatrist has received one of the highest honors awarded by the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences.

Nancy C. Andreasen, M.D., Ph.D., UI professor of psychiatry, received the eighth annual Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health Oct. 12 for her work in schizophrenia. Andreasen attended the award ceremony in Washington, D.C., at the National Academy of Sciences.

"Dr. Andreasen's research in schizophrenia has had a profound effect on the field of contemporary psychiatry," said Terry C. Pellmar, Ph.D., director of the Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Health at the Institute of Medicine. "She is recognized as a conceptual leader in the field and an outstanding role model for young physicians."

Pellmar said the institute receives many nominations for exceptional individuals. Supported by a generous endowment from Dr. and Mrs. Sarnat, the prize recognizes achievements in basic science, clinical application or public policy that lead to progress in the understanding or treatment of mental illness or to the promotion of mental health.

Andreasen is known nationally for neuroimaging studies and her efforts to pinpoint and measure clinical symptoms of schizophrenia. Her best-selling book, "The Broken Brain: The Biological Revolution in Psychiatry," written in 1985, describes psychiatric research for the lay audience. In 1997, she created a new model of schizophrenia based on neuroimaging data. That research suggests that a "misconnection syndrome" -- a brain circuitry disruption -- between certain parts of the brain causes the cognitive dysfunction, such as hallucinations or disorganized language, that typifies schizophrenia.

Pellmar said the Sarnat award also recognizes the role Andreasen has played as editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Psychiatry, "transforming it into a first-rate scientific publication with accessibility by psychiatric practitioners."

"We are delighted that the Institute of Medicine chose to recognize Dr. Andreasen's significant contributions to her field," said Robert P. Kelch, M.D., dean of the UI College of Medicine. "The Sarnat award honors the quality and scope of Dr. Andreasen's expertise and devotion to studying schizophrenia and advancing patient care."

Andreasen is one of 14 UI faculty members, including a dean emeritus, who hold membership in the Institute of Medicine. She was elected to the institute in 1992.

UI President Mary Sue Coleman said, "This most recent international award reaffirms the importance of Dr. Andreasen's research and professional leadership in her discipline. We take pride in the recognition she has received."

Coleman and Kelch are also members of the Institute of Medicine, whose mission is to advance and disseminate scientific knowledge to improve human health. Institute members come from the United States and nearly 20 other countries.

Andreasen earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska and a master's degree from Radcliffe College. She earned a doctorate in English from the University of Nebraska and became a UI assistant professor of English in 1963.

She earned her medical degree from the University of Iowa in 1970. After completing her residency in psychiatry, she joined the UI medical faculty as an assistant professor of psychiatry in 1973. She was promoted to full professor in 1981 and has served as director of the UI Mental Health Clinical Research Center since 1987. Andreasen was appointed to the Andrew H. Woods Chair of Psychiatry in 1997.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.