Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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Irving Gottesman, Retired Psychology Professor, Awarded for Groundbreaking Research

Irving Gottesman, Sherrell J. Aston Professor of Psychology Emeritus in the University of Virginia’s College of Arts & Sciences, has been named the winner of the University of Louisville’s 2013 Grawemeyer Award for Psychology for his research on schizophrenia.

Louisville presents four Grawemeyer Awards each year for outstanding work in music composition, world order, psychology and education. The university and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary jointly give a fifth award in religion. This year’s awardees each receive $100,000.

Gottesman, who was on the U.Va. faculty from 1985 to 2001, created a model accounting for the genetic and environmental factors that can affect the risk of developing schizophrenia over time – defying prevailing scientific beliefs that only heredity or environment can account for the condition.

He worked with researcher Dr. James Shields of the British Institute of Psychiatry in the 1960s on a twin study of schizophrenia at the Medical Research Council Psychiatric Genetics Unit at Maudsley Hospital in London. Shields died in 1978.

Over time, researchers have expanded Gottesman’s work to explain degrees of other psychiatric conditions, including autism, alcohol dependence and bipolar disorders. Experts have said his ideas could lead to a better classification system for psychiatric disorders than the one used for more than a century.

Gottesman has written or co-written several books, including “Schizophrenia and Genetics: A Twin Study Vantage Point,” “Schizophrenia: The Epigenetic Puzzle” and “Schizophrenia Genesis: The Origins of Madness.”

Currently a senior psychology fellow at the University of Minnesota, he also is the retired Irving and Dorothy Bernstein professor of adult psychiatry there.

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