Dr. Thomas Insel, a distinguished neuroscientist and psychiatrist and leader of the mental health team at the life sciences research organization Verily, will receive this year’s Joan and Stanford Alexander Award in Psychiatry.
The award was established in honor of Dr. Stuart Yudofsky, distinguished emeritus professor of the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine, who also was its first recipient.
Each year, the award honors a mental health professional who has made significant contributions in research, education and clinical or community service for people suffering from severe and persistent mental illness. The award consists of an annual prize and lecture of international scope.
Insel will receive the award and present grand rounds on Wednesday, April 19, at 10 a.m. in Baylor College of Medicine’s Cullen Auditorium. His lecture is titled “Three Revolutions in Psychiatry.” The event is open to the public.
Insel served as the director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) for 13 years, where he broke ground in the areas of practical clinical trials, autism spectrum disorder and the role of genetics in mental illnesses. At NIMH, he also led important projects to understand the brain and co-chaired the BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) initiative, an ongoing public-private research effort launched by President Barack Obama in 2013. He also brought the power of genomics and neuroscience to the study of serious mental illness, launched the Research Domain Criteria project to transform diagnostics and led an overhaul of the clinical trials program to focus on targets and mechanisms. He has served as chair of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, co-chair of the NIH Neuroscience Blueprint and served as interim director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Science.
Prior to serving as NIMH director, lnsel was a professor of psychiatry at Emory University where he was founding director of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience and director of the Yerkes Regional Primate Center in Atlanta. Insel’s research has examined the neural basis of complex social behaviors, including maternal care and attachment. A member of the National Academy of Medicine, he has received numerous national and international awards.
Joan and Stanford Alexander are pioneer advocates for providing parity in the reimbursement for psychiatric care for the mentally ill and work to fight the effects of stigma on those who suffer from mental illness.
This marks the ninth year of the award.