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UPMC Physician and International Expert in Women’s Mental Health to Receive Prestigious 2011 Women in Science Award

PITTSBURGH, March 29 - The American Medical Women’s Association has named Katherine L. Wisner, M.D., M.S., as the recipient of the 2011 Women in Science Award, which is given to a female physician who has made exceptional contributions to medical science, especially in women's health, through her basic and/or clinical research, her publications and through leadership in her field.

“I was delighted to hear about the award,” noted Dr. Wisner. “I am honored to have contributed to research in perinatal mental health over the last 25 years, as it has gone from being essentially unknown in the U.S. to a field of great interest among investigators and clinicians. I accept the award in honor of the many women who have participated in research studies so that our knowledge about perinatal mental disorders and treatments could advance.”  

Dr. Wisner is a professor of psychiatry, obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences and epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and director of the Women's Behavioral HealthCARE program at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC. She also serves as an investigator at the Magee-Womens Research Institute. Her research focuses on the psychiatric treatment of women of childbearing age, and she is internationally recognized as an expert in the treatment of depression during pregnancy and the postpartum period.

Dr. Wisner has received funding from the National Institute of Mental Health as the principal investigator since 1988. She studies the impact of both exposure to major depression during pregnancy, as well as treatment with a class of antidepressant medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) on maternal and infant outcomes. Dr. Wisner also is studying pregnancy outcomes for women with bipolar disorder and the pharmacokinetics of treatment with lithium during pregnancy.   

She currently is conducting a clinical trial for postpartum depression that includes treatment with an estradiol skin patch, the antidepressant sertraline or placebo to increase treatment options for women with postpartum depression. Her team has screened over 10,000 new mothers from Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC for depression, and found a 14 percent positive rate.

Dr. Wisner will receive her award during a presentation that will take place at the American Medical Women’s Association annual meeting in Washington D.C., on April 2.

The American Medical Women's Association (AMWA) is an organization of women physicians, medical students and other persons dedicated to serving as the unique voice for women's health and the advancement of women in medicine. The organization was founded by Dr. Bertha VanHoosen in 1915 in Chicago, at a time when women physicians were an under-represented minority. As women in medicine increase in numbers, new problems and issues arise that were not anticipated. AMWA has been addressing these issues for 94 years. For more information, visit www.amwa-doc.org.

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