Navigate Up

UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Manager
Telephone: 412-864-4151
Director
Telephone: 412-586-9777

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Pitt Researcher Receives Recognition from Institute of Medicine for Dedication to Treating Mental Health and Mood Disorders

PITTSBURGH, October 17, 2011 Ellen Frank, Ph.D., distinguished professor of psychiatry and professor of psychology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, is one of two researchers nationwide to receive the 2011 Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health from the Institute of Medicine (IOM). The Sarnat Prize, consisting of a medal and $20,000, recognizes Dr. Frank's development of revolutionary approaches to treating mood disorders. The award will be presented later today at IOM's annual meeting in Washington, D.C. 

Dr. Frank is being recognized for her decades-long efforts to enhance treatment and the understanding of mood disorders.  "Our understanding of depression and other mood disorders and our ability to help people overcome these debilitating and potentially fatal illnesses owe much to the work of Ellen Frank and fellow award recipient William Bunney," said IOM President Harvey V. Fineberg.  "Their research and clinical studies have not only directly contributed remarkable new knowledge to the field, but also spurred an abundance of findings by other researchers inspired by their work." 

Dr. Frank's conceptualization and testing of novel psychotherapeutic approaches to mood disorders has led to far-reaching improvements in knowledge about and treatment of depression and has changed the nature of clinical practice in the United States and throughout the developed world.  Her work has demonstrated the psychosocial components of mood disorders and their effects on circadian rhythms and other biological processes that contribute to such disorders.  She developed interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT), which blends interpersonal psychotherapy with behavioral intervention and is effective in teaching patients how to order their lives and stabilize their social routines to avoid new episodes of depression or mania.  In response to other professionals' interest in receiving training in IPSRT, Dr. Frank established a training institute to disseminate this intervention both nationally and abroad.

In addition, Dr. Frank's clinical trial investigating how to keep patients from experiencing recurrent depression challenged the conventional practice of lowering patients' drug dosage after their depression subsided.  Now, maintaining full-dose pharmacotherapy for patients with recurrent depression is the standard of practice throughout the developed world.

Since 1992, the IOM has presented the Sarnat Prize to individuals, groups or organizations that have demonstrated outstanding achievement in improving mental health.  The prize recognizes — without regard for professional discipline or nationality — 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.  As defined by the nominating criteria, the field of mental health encompasses neuroscience, psychology, social work, nursing, psychiatry and advocacy, among other disciplines.

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.  Nominations for potential recipients are solicited every year from IOM members, mental health professionals and others.  Final decisions regarding the awards are made by a selection committee. Additional information on the Sarnat Prize can be found at http://www.iom.edu/sarnat. 

©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com