Senator Arlen Specter Honored for his Support to Expand Mental Health Care

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University Medical Center and Weill Cornell Medical College Present Public Service Award

May 8, 2012


NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University Medical Center and Weill Cornell Medical College presented their annual Public Service Award to Senator Arlen Specter yesterday for his sustained efforts to increase support for biomedical research and enhance mental health care services at their reception during the 2012 American Psychiatric Association Meeting in Philadelphia.

The annual award honors a member of the American community for his or her contributions to psychiatric medicine and mental health. Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, psychiatrist-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center and president-elect of the American Psychiatric Association, and Dr. Jack Barchas, psychiatrist-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical College, presented Senator Specter with the Public Service Award.

"We recognized Senator Specter with this award because of his longstanding interest and unflagging support for health care and research" says Dr. Lieberman, who is also chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. "He has been a visionary and a champion of the biomedical research community and mental health care services, and led the effort to double the National Institutes of Health budget from 1998 to 2008."

"We are very pleased to honor Senator Specter for his unwavering support to expand mental health care for veterans and for his profound commitment to medical research," added Dr. Barchas, who is also the chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. "His influence in this area has been extraordinary, and we look forward to his continued support for mental health programs."

During his tenure as a senior member of the Appropriations Committee in the United States Senate, Senator Specter led the fight to increase funding for the National Institutes of Health to expand medical research. In addition, he signed a bill to provide autism treatments for military personnel and their families under the TRICARE health program and co-sponsored a bill to improve and enhance mental health care benefits for returning veterans.

In addition to the Public Service Award, the Departments of Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center and Weill Cornell Medical College presented three department awards.

Dr. Lieberman honored Dr. Deborah Cabaniss, clinical professor of psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and the director of psychotherapy training in the Department of Psychiatry with the Columbia Alumni Award, for her extraordinary commitment to psychiatry residents and to the educational mission of the department.

Dr. Barchas recognized Dr. Gerard Smith, professor emeritus of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, with the Weill Cornell Alumni Award for his pioneering work into the neurobiology of appetitive behavior.

Dr. Philip J. Wilner, vice president and medical director for behavioral health at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and executive vice chair of the Department of Psychiatry and an associate professor at Weill Cornell Medical College also honored Dr. Mary Zanarini with the Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Field of Severe Personality Disorders from the Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Resource Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division. Dr. Mary Zanarini is the director of the laboratory for the study of adult development at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., and professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, based in New York City, is the nation's largest not-for-profit, non-sectarian hospital, with 2,353 beds. The Hospital has nearly 2 million inpatient and outpatient visits in a year, including more than 220,000 visits to its emergency departments — more than any other area hospital. NewYork-Presbyterian provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine at five major centers: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division. One of the most comprehensive health care institutions in the world, the Hospital is committed to excellence in patient care, research, education and community service. NewYork-Presbyterian is the #1 hospital in the New York metropolitan area and is consistently ranked among the best academic medical institutions in the nation, according to U.S.News & World Report. The Hospital has academic affiliations with two of the nation's leading medical colleges: Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Columbia University Medical Center

Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, pre-clinical and clinical research, in medical and health sciences education, and in patient care. The Medical Center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, public health professionals, dentists, and nurses at the College of Physicians & Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. Established in 1767, Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons was the first institution in the country to grant the M.D. degree and is now among the most selective medical schools in the country. Columbia University Medical Center is home to the largest medical research enterprise in New York City and state and one of the largest in the United States. For more information, please visit

Weill Cornell Medical College

Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University's medical school located in New York City, is committed to excellence in research, teaching, patient care and the advancement of the art and science of medicine, locally, nationally and globally. Physicians and scientists of Weill Cornell Medical College are engaged in cutting-edge research from bench to bedside, aimed at unlocking mysteries of the human body in health and sickness and toward developing new treatments and prevention strategies. In its commitment to global health and education, Weill Cornell has a strong presence in places such as Qatar, Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Austria and Turkey. Through the historic Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, the Medical College is the first in the U.S. to offer its M.D. degree overseas. Weill Cornell is the birthplace of many medical advances - including the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer, the synthesis of penicillin, the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S., the first clinical trial of gene therapy for Parkinson's disease, and most recently, the world's first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally conscious brain-injured patient. Weill Cornell Medical College is affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, where its faculty provides comprehensive patient care at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. The Medical College is also affiliated with the Methodist Hospital in Houston. For more information, visit

Media Contact:

Public Affairs 212-305-5587