NIMH's Richard Wyatt Mourned
Schizophrenia researcher Dr. Richard Jed Wyatt, chief, Neuropsychiatry Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, died June 7, at age 63, after a long bout with cancer.
"Although we now take for granted that schizophrenia has a biological basis, Richard was one of the early pioneers in the intramural research program who championed this view and brought research on schizophrenia into the lab," said NIMH scientific director Dr. Robert Desimone. "He was the prototypical translational researcher, and he trained and mentored many of the leaders in this field."
Wyatt's work served as "a critical early beacon," illuminating the path for a younger generation of neuroscience-minded psychiatry researchers, said former NIMH director Dr. Steven Hyman at a day-long "Neuroscience and Psychiatry" symposium held in Wyatt's honor May 30, 2001. NIMH schizophrenia researcher Dr. Daniel Weinberger, who worked with Wyatt for many years at St. Elizabeths, recalled that "he created a supportive environment where scientists of many disciplines and stripes literally worked at the same bench, all focused on a common goal: to understand the biology of schizophrenia."
"The broad spectrum of approaches that Richard brought to the study of schizophrenia neuropharmacology, neuropathology, brain imaging, animal models are the same approaches that researchers are still using today," noted Desimone.
Among many awards and honors, Wyatt received the Stanley R. Dean Research Award from the American College of Psychiatrists, the McAlpin Mental Health Research Achievement Award from the National Mental Health Association, and the Silvano Arieti Award for Schizophrenia Research from the American Academy of Psychoanalysis.
Wyatt also coproduced (with his wife, Dr. Kay Jamison) a series of programs about manic-depressive illness and creativity that aired on public television. In his cover story in the Washington Post Health section, Feb. 13, 2001, Wyatt related some of his experiences battling cancer for the third time.
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