WRITER: GIGI WOOD
CONTACT: BECKY SOGLIN
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-6660; fax (319) 384-4638
Release: March 20, 2001
UI's Andreasen to give public talk on mental illness,
schizophrenia April 4
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- While many people's lives are affected
by mental illness -- personally or through family and other relationships
-- understanding the brain's role in such conditions can be challenging.
Nancy Andreasen, M.D., Ph.D., Andrew H. Woods Chair
of Psychiatry in the University of Iowa College of Medicine, will help people
learn about the brain and mental illness in a free, public lecture at 4 p.m.
Wednesday, April 4, in Macbride Auditorium on the UI campus. The lecture,
titled "Understanding the Human Mind and Brain in the Golden Age of Neuroscience,"
is being presented in honor of Andreasen's recent receipt of the National
Medal of Science. A reception in the Old Capitol Rotunda will follow the lecture.
Andreasen will discuss overall concepts about mental
illness as well as what researchers, including many UI investigators, have
learned about the normal brain and schizophrenia using modern tools of neuroimaging
"The knowledge that we are obtaining by using the
tools of neuroscience offer a great deal of hope that we can eventually develop
better treatments, which will reverse or prevent the symptoms more effectively
than our current treatments," said Andreasen, who also is director of the
UI Mental Health Clinical Research Center.
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.
Andreasen's talk will begin with the normal brain
and address three topics: gender differences, aging, and brain development.
She will then turn to the topic of mental illness, with a focus on schizophrenia,
and describe the evidence suggesting that schizophrenia is a neurodevelopmental
In 1997 Andreasen 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 dysfunctions, such as hallucinations or disorganized language,
that typify schizophrenia.
"We now understand schizophrenia as a disease of misconnections
in the brain," Andreasen explained.
In her talk, she will describe three key areas in
the brain that are abnormal in schizophrenia: the prefrontal cortex, thalamus
Schizophrenia has many different signs and symptoms,
ranging from paranoid delusions to apathetic withdrawal. Yet it remains a
question how this one illness can have so many different manifestations and
how it can more effectively be treated or prevented.
"The future of psychiatry is very exciting," Andreasen
said. "During the upcoming several decades, we are likely to 'crack' a variety
of major mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, autism,
and anxiety and mood disorders."
Andreasen's current research includes three-dimensional
image analysis techniques to integrate multi-modality imaging and develop
innovative methods for analyzing structural and functional imaging techniques.
These neuroimaging techniques allow researchers to better pinpoint and measure
the clinical signs of schizophrenia.
Andreasen received the National Medal of Science award
Dec. 1. Congress established the award 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." Her award marks the second time that a UI faculty member has achieved
this distinction. James A. Van Allen, UI professor emeritus of physics and
astronomy, received the National Medal of Science in 1987.
Andreasen is editor-in-chief of the American Journal
of Psychiatry. She has served as chair of the International Advisory Board
for the Nobel Symposium on Schizophrenia and is past president of the American
Psychopathological Association and the Psychiatric Research Society.
She 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 American Psychiatric Association Prize for Research
and the Dean Award and the Distinguished Service Award from the American College
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.