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Release: Nov. 13, 2000

UI's Andreasen will receive President's National Medal of Science Dec. 1

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The White House announced today that a University of Iowa Health Care physician will receive the President's National Medal of Science. Nancy C. Andreasen, M.D., Ph.D., Andrew H. Woods Chair of Psychiatry in the University of Iowa College of Medicine, will receive the honor in a ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 1.

Congress established the National Medal of Science in 1959 as a Presidential Award for individuals "deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to knowledge in the physical, biological, mathematical or engineering sciences." In 1980, Congress expanded this recognition to include the social and behavioral sciences. The president appoints a committee of 12 scientists and engineers to evaluate the nominees for the award.

University of Iowa President Mary Sue Coleman nominated Andreasen for the medal. "This is one of the highest honors any physician scientist can achieve," said Coleman. "Not only is this a momentous achievement for Dr. Andreasen personally, but it is also a great honor for the University of Iowa. It certainly reinforces our belief that we have a faculty that is of the highest caliber."

Since its establishment, the National Medal of Science has been awarded to 374 distinguished scientists and engineers whose careers spanned decades of research and development. "Receiving the National Medal of Science is indeed a tremendous honor," said Andreasen. "To be numbered among these outstanding individuals is indeed gratifying and humbling."

Andreasen has made distinguished contributions to research into the causes, prevention and treatment of schizophrenia. She is known internationally for her neuroimaging research, which involves the use of magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography. In 1997 she created a new model of schizophrenia based on neuroimaging data. That research suggests that a "misconnection syndrome" -- a brain circuitry disruption -- between certain parts of the brain causes the cognitive dysfunction, such as hallucinations or disorganized language, that typifies schizophrenia.

Her current research includes three-dimensional image analysis techniques to integrate multi-modality imaging and to develop innovative automated methods for analyzing structural and functional imaging techniques. These neuroimaging techniques allow researchers to better pinpoint and measure the clinical signs of schizophrenia.

"This award is truly well-deserved," said Robert P. Kelch, MD, dean of the University of Iowa College of Medicine. "Dr. Andreasen has a long track record of leadership and innovation in the study of mental illness and has made numerous contributions to our understanding of these disorders."

R. Edward Howell, CEO and director of University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, added, "Another impressive aspect about Dr. Andreasen is her compassion. She cares deeply about her patients and is widely known for the outstanding health care she provides to people diagnosed with mental disorders."

Andreasen has served as chair of the International Advisory Board for the Nobel Symposium on Schizophrenia and is Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Psychiatry. She also is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and has twice been elected to serve on its governing council. Andreasen's past honors include: the Research Scientist Award from the National Institute of Mental Health; the Adolf Meyer Award; the American Psychiatric Association Prize for Research; the Sigmund Freud Award from the American College of Psychoanalysis; the Dean Award and the Distinguished Service Award from the American College of Psychiatrists; the Robert Sommer Award; Board of Regents, State of Iowa Award for Faculty Excellence; the Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health from the Institute of Medicine, and the Lieber Prize for Outstanding Research in Schizophrenia from the Essel Foundation.

This marks the second time that a member of the University of Iowa faculty has achieved this distinction. James A. Van Allen, Professor Emeritus of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Iowa, received the National Medal of Science from President Ronald Reagan in 1987. Van Allen received the award for his central role in the exploration of outer space, including the discoveries of the magnetospheres of Earth, Jupiter and Saturn. The Van Allen belts of radiation bear his name.