Columbia University Medical Center

Major Gift Given To Columbia And Cornell To Establish The Mortimer D. Sackler, M.D. Prize For Distinguished Achievement In Developmental Psychobiology

$100,000 Award Will Be Granted Jointly Every Two Years to Honor the Contributions of Mortimer D. Sackler, M.D., to Understanding the Biology of Psychiatric Illness

NEW YORK (March 29, 2010) — Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Weill Cornell Medical College are pleased to announce a major gift from The Mortimer D. Sackler Foundation to establish an endowed prize in developmental psychobiology.

The Mortimer D. Sackler, M.D. Prize for Distinguished Achievement in Developmental Psychobiology recognizes researchers who have advanced our understanding of how early brain development influences the mind and behavior throughout life. The prize aims to foster international cooperation among scientists and promote public understanding of their work. The prize will be presented jointly every two years by The Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and The Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology at Weill Cornell Medical College.

The new prize honors the late Mortimer D. Sackler, M.D., who was an innovative scientist in the field of developmental psychobiology. Dr. Sackler began his career as a psychiatrist and pioneer researcher in biological psychiatry in the late 1940s at Creedmoor State Psychiatric Hospital in Queens, New York. During this early period he published a series of papers that emphasized the biology of psychiatric illness. In the late 1950s Dr. Sackler, with his brothers, founded the pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma, where he served as co-chairman until his recent death in 2010.

Throughout his medical and pharmaceutical career, Dr. Sackler simultaneously engaged in an extraordinary mission of philanthropy. The Mortimer D. Sackler Foundation endowed The Sackler Institutes of Developmental Psychobiology at Weill Cornell and Columbia, as well as The Sackler Institutes at the University of Glasgow, University of Edinburgh, McGill University in Montréal, and most recently at the University of Sussex, England. His many awards included the first award for scientific research by the Medical Society of New York and the French Legion of Honor, and he was appointed as a knight of the Order of the British Empire.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Dr. Sackler received his Bachelor of Arts degree from New York University, attended the Anderson College of Medicine in Scotland, and received his medical degree from the Middlesex University School of Medicine in Massachusetts. He completed his internship and residencies at Harlem Hospital in New York City and the Creedmoor State Psychiatric Hospital.

Dr. Sackler died on March 24, 2010 in Gstaad, Switzerland, at the age of 93.

“We are so honored for this generous gift, which will enable The Sackler Prize to become a tradition at Columbia and Weill Cornell for many years to come,” said Lee Goldman, M.D., executive vice president and dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. “The work that the gift will support promises to establish and build upon the fundamentals for studying psychiatric disorders, and, notably, to expand the library of knowledge about normal development.”

“We are enormously grateful to The Mortimer D. Sackler Foundation for their longstanding support of biomedical research, particularly their leadership in the area of developmental psychobiology,” said Dr. Antonio M. Gotto Jr., the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College. “The Sackler Prize will recognize and encourage research that builds on Dr. Sackler’s pioneering work in this area, with the goal of increasing understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying human development and working toward new treatments for conditions ranging from learning disabilities to autism and substance abuse.”

“This award honors the important work Dr. Sackler did in the field of developmental psychobiology, a term he used many years before it became a recognized field of research in the late 1960s, and before it was realized that so many adult mental illnesses have their origins in early development,” said Myron Hofer, M.D., director of the Columbia Sackler Institute, and The Sackler Institute Professor of Developmental Psychobiology at Columbia University Medical Center and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. “As the first prize to recognize interdisciplinary research on the developmental processes of brain, behavior and mind as a primary field of research, it will have a major impact on the field.”

“Rarely do we get the wonderful opportunity to acknowledge pioneers in the field of developmental psychobiology,” said B.J. Casey, Ph.D., the Sackler Professor of Psychiatry and director of The Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology at Weill Cornell Medical College. “These individuals have paved the road to understanding mental illness and health from a neurodevelopmental perspective. This award will not only recognize these leaders, but also highlight the importance of this perspective and Dr. Sackler’s vision.”

Weill Cornell will give the first presentation of the endowed prize in 2010; the two institutions will alternate in presenting the award biennially. The recipient will give grand rounds at both medical schools, as well as participate in formal workshops at both institutes.

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2010 award. Instructions for sending nominations are available on The Sackler Institute Web site: www.SacklerInstitute.org. Proposed studies should be directed at gaining a better understanding of fundamental developmental processes at the cellular/molecular, behavioral, or clinical level that are likely to be relevant to the etiology of psychiatric conditions.

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The Sackler Institutes

The Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology at Columbia University Medical Center was endowed and established in 2001 by The Mortimer D. Sackler Foundation, and is dedicated to research into the complex processes underlying normal development, as well as the origins of psychiatric illness, working at levels ranging from the molecular to the psychological.

The Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology at Weill Cornell Medical College, was endowed and established in 1998 by The Mortimer D. Sackler Foundation, and is focused on research and training using the techniques of brain imaging, human genetics, electrophysiology, and behavioral methods, to study typical and atypical human brain development.

Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, pre-clinical and clinical research, in medical and health sciences education, and in patient care. The medical center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, public health professionals, dentists, and nurses at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. Established in 1767, Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons was the first institution in the country to grant the M.D. degree and is now among the most selective medical schools in the country. Columbia University Medical Center is home to the most comprehensive medical research enterprise in New York City and State and one of the largest in the United States. Columbia University Medical Center is affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, the nation’s largest not-for-profit hospital provider. For more information, please visit www.cumc.columbia.edu.

Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University’s medical school located in New York City, is committed to excellence in research, teaching, patient care and the advancement of the art and science of medicine, locally, nationally and globally. Physicians and scientists of Weill Cornell Medical College are engaged in cutting-edge research from bench to bedside, aimed at unlocking mysteries of the human body in health and sickness and toward developing new treatments and prevention strategies. In its commitment to global health and education, Weill Cornell has a strong presence in places such as Qatar, Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Austria and Turkey. Through the historic Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, the Medical College is the first in the U.S. to offer its M.D. degree overseas. Weill Cornell is the birthplace of many medical advances — including the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer, the synthesis of penicillin, the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S., the first clinical trial of gene therapy for Parkinson’s disease, and most recently, the world’s first successful use of deep-brain stimulation to treat a minimally conscious brain-injured patient. Weill Cornell Medical College is affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, where its faculty provides comprehensive patient care at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. The Medical College is also affiliated with the Methodist Hospital in Houston, making Weill Cornell one of only two medical colleges in the country affiliated with two U.S.News & World Report Honor Roll hospitals. For more information, please visit www.med.cornell.edu.

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