Dr. Jack Barchas Receives Institute of Medicine's 2006 Sarnat Award in Mental Health

Prestigious Award Recognizes Dr. Barchas' Numerous Contributions to Psychiatry

Oct 10, 2006


Honoring his many contributions to psychiatry, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has awarded the 2006 Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Award in Mental Health to Jack David Barchas. Dr. Barchas is psychiatrist-in-chief of the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and the Barklie McKee Henry Professor and chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. Consisting of a medal and $20,000, the prize was presented Monday, October 9, at the IOM annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

The Sarnat Award is being given to Dr. Barchas in recognition of his impact on fundamental and behavioral neurobiology, particularly in the area of neuroregulators – chemical substances that transmit information between nerve cells – and behavior. Dr. Barchas was the first to demonstrate that various types of neurotransmitters are altered differently by stress. His studies in molecular neurobiological mechanisms led to advances in understanding the regulation of neurotransmitters, the first genetic studies of these processes, the discovery of previously unrecognized neuropeptide transmitters, the mapping of transmitters, and the investigation of their roles in behavior.

"Our society owes a great debt to Dr. Barchas for his contributions to the study of neurobiology and emotional behavior," said IOM president Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg. "His discoveries have transformed the way we identify and treat mental illness, and increased our understanding of the complexities of adaptive behavior."

Since 1992, the Institute of Medicine has presented the Sarnat Award to individuals, groups or organizations that have demonstrated outstanding achievement in improving mental health. The prize recognizes achievements in basic science, clinical application and public policy that lead to progress in the understanding, etiology, prevention, treatment or cure of mental disorders, or to the promotion of mental health. Nominations for potential recipients are solicited every year from IOM members, deans of medical schools, and mental health professionals.

The award is supported by an endowment created by Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat of Los Angeles. Rhoda Sarnat is a licensed clinical social worker, and Bernard Sarnat is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon and researcher. The Sarnats' concern about the destructive effects of mental illness inspired them to establish the award.

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Dr. Jack Barchas

Dr. Jack Barchas received his undergraduate degree from Pomona College in 1956 and his medical degree from Yale University in 1961. He then took an internship at the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine, did postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health, and completed his psychiatry residency at Stanford, where he was a faculty member and the Nancy Friend Pritzker Professor through 1989. Before coming to NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell, he served as dean for research development and for neuroscience at UCLA School of Medicine and as a professor in the department of psychiatry and bio-behavioral sciences. Dr. Barchas has received many professional honors, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Biological Psychiatry and the Research Award for Lifetime Achievement from the American Psychiatric Association. For 12 years, he chaired IOM's Board on Neuroscience and Behavioral Health. He recently completed a five-year term as chair of the board of trustees of the New York Academy of Medicine and currently chairs the Board of the Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Disease. He is president of the Robert J. and Claire Pasarow Foundation, which provides awards for extraordinary scientific achievement in the fields of neuropsychiatry, cardiovascular disease and cancer. He was also the director of the Pritzker Network on Depression Research, which involves cross-institutional research efforts dealing with the basic and clinical science of severe mental illness. He served as editor of the Archives of General Psychiatry for eight years. He is an author of several hundred research papers and has edited a dozen books.

The Institute of Medicine

Established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine provides independent, objective, evidence-based advice to policymakers, health professionals, the private sector and the public. The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine and National Research Council make up the National Academies.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, located in New York City, is one of the leading academic medical centers in the world, comprising the teaching hospital NewYork-Presbyterian and its academic partner, Weill Cornell Medical College. NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine, and is committed to excellence in patient care, research, education and community service. NewYork-Presbyterian is ranked sixth on U.S.News & World Report's list of top hospitals in the nation.

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