NARSAD was the NATIONAL ALLIANCE FOR RESEARCH ON SCHIZOPHRENIA AND DEPRESSION when it was established by Gwill Newman and others. The first President of NARSAD, she began her extensive volunteer and philanthropic career in her native city, Cleveland, Ohio. She was a Special Guest at the 11th Annual Symposium.
“In her new book, My Son’s Name Was Fred, Newman writes passionately of the onset of her son’s mental illness and how it changed the lives of everyone in her family. She discovered the problems commonly faced by the victims of mental illness and their families: the lengthy bureaucratic processes, the lack of research and funding for humane care, and the stigma that exists, even today. In the process of her search for help, she became an advocate, not only for her son, but for all others living with mental illness and diseases of the brain.”
Another participant in the 11th Annual Symposium, An Educational Program Presented by NARSAD FLORIDA, the world’s leading charity dedicated to mental health research was David L. Shern Ph.D. He is president and chief executive officer of Mental Health America. Formally known as the National Mental Health Association, it is a not-for-profit organization with more than 320 affiliates nationwide, it represents a growing movement of Americans whom promote mental wellness for the health and well-being of the nation-everyday and in times of crisis.
Before joining Mental Health America Dr. Shern was a tenured professor at the University of South Florida where he dealt with a variety mental health issues in a variety of settings.
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He earned his doctoral, master’s and bachelor’s degrees at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
A third participant was James F. Leckman , M.D., Yale University who spoke on “Primary Parental Preoccupations-Revisited Genes, Circuits and the Crucial Role of Early Experience”. He is the Neison Harris Professor of Child Psychiatry, Psychiatry, Psychology and Pediatrics at Yale University where he also serves as the director of research of the Yale Child Study Center.
He is widely recognized as a master clinician in the evaluation and treatment of Tourette’s syndrome and early onset obsessive-compulsive disorder. He has been selected five times as the Outstanding Research Mentor by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
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He earned his bachelor’s degree from The College of Wooster in Ohio, and his medical degree from the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine.
A fourth participant in the Symposium was Herbert Y. Meltzer, M.D., Vanderbilt University. He is the Bixler/May/Johnson Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology and director of the Psychobiology Program for Translational Research at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He has served in many research positions in many venues.
Dr. Melzer received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Cornell University, a master’s degree in chemistry from Harvard University and medical degree from Yale University.
Final Special Guests were Joseph Greco, Writer and Director and Joe Pantoliano, Actor. Joe Pantoliano will be honored with a Luminary Award from NARSAD Florida for his work in film in creating greater understanding of mental Illness. He stars in Canvas, a film that examines the effects of mental illness on a family. His most recent television credits include his role as the psychopathic mobster Ralphie Cifaretto on the Sopranos for which he won the 2003 Emmy award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a drama series.
Pantoliano has appeared in more than 100 films including Risky Business, The Fugitive, and The Matrix. He attributes his success as an actor to his mental illness, 30 years of clinical depression.
The attendees at the symposium on Saturday at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota, Florida learned that we will have to Shatter the myths, Stop the stigma, Support the science, before we will be able to close the gaps between what research has shown us is true about mental illness and access to treatment. Help is there for those who suffer from mental illness but we have yet to learn how to make what we know can help those who suffer from mental illness available to them in a timely fashion. Research on timely delivery of treatment to those in need is long overdue and must be the next big research endeavor.
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Geoff Burkett, NARSAD’S president and CEO said we fund research when no one else will. This year NARSAD will, in the organizations 21st year of grant-making, raise and give away more than $20 million in research grants to approximately 300 scientists world-wide. Since 1987, through the generosity and commitment of thousands of donors, NARSAD has awarded $219 million in 3,243 research grants to 2,502 scientists.
11th Annual Symposium, NARSAD FLORIDA, January 12, 2008
Donna Wright, Bradenton Herald, page 1C, January 13, 2008