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Release: Jan. 18, 2000

Wisner is appointed to Helen C. Levitt Visiting Professorship for 2000

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Katherine L. Wisner, M.D., professor of psychiatry and reproductive biology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals of Cleveland, has been appointed to the Helen C. Levitt Endowed Visiting Professorship at the University of Iowa College of Medicine for the year 2000.

The annual visiting professorship brings outstanding scholars from other institutions to the college to lecture, consult with faculty and students, and devote time to research or activities related to clinical care.

The professorship was established in 1997 with a $2 million endowment from the estate of Helen C. Levitt through the UI Foundation. Levitt, a native of Sioux City and 1932 UI graduate, generously supported many areas of the university prior to her death in 1996.

Wisner, who is director of Women's Mental HealthCARE at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals of Cleveland, is an internationally known expert on treating depression during pregnancy and the post-partum period. She will help establish multi-site studies, which will involve the UI, to investigate clinical interventions that include psychotherapy, light therapy and medication for pregnant and postpartum women dealing with depression.

"Matching treatments to patients' needs is a cutting edge of research," Wisner said. "We need to determine which treatments are best for each patient in terms of both psychosocial and biological aspects."

Wisner will also help train UI Health Care faculty on how to best use medications to treat post-partum women who are depressed. She also hopes to explore biomedical ethics, women's involvement in academia and related women's issues while at the UI.

"I'm excited about the opportunities to work with UI faculty and staff," Wisner said. "There are many possibilities for combining different expertise and collaborating across universities."

Wisner learned about the Levitt professorship through UI researchers, Michael O'Hara, Ph.D., professor of psychology and associate dean of research and development in the College of Liberal Arts; and Scott Stuart, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry. Both investigators study issues related to mental health during pregnancy and post-partum. In late February, O'Hara and Stuart will travel to Wisner's home institution in Cleveland to share their psychotherapy expertise.

Wisner serves on the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) Interventions Research Review Committee, which is responsible for evaluating the scientific merit of clinical intervention grants. She also serves on the NIMH Data Monitoring and Safety Board to ensure data quality and ethical standards in multi-site clinical trials.

In addition to earning her medical degree from Case Western Reserve University, Wisner holds a bachelor's degree in chemistry and biology from John Carroll University in Cleveland and a master's degree in nutrition from Case Western Reserve University. Before joining Case Western in 1994, she completed a residency and fellowship and served on the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.