Nancy Andreasen Receives First Annual Vanderbilt Prize

Nancy Andreasen, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of Psychiatry at the University of Iowa, has been selected as the first recipient of the “Vanderbilt Prize in Biomedical Science.”

This new annual award was established by the 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 women in science.

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. Andreasen also will serve on the thesis committee of the scholarship recipient as a condition of the award.

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.

“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 VUSM. “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.”

Andreasen is 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.

One of the world’s foremost authorities on schizophrenia, she was a 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 prestigious 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.”

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