University of Pennsylvania
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January 16, 2004
Aaron Beck, MD, Receives Awards from the Institute of Medicine
and the University of Louisville
(Philadelphia, PA) – Aaron T. Beck, MD, Professor Emeritus
of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine,
has received the Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health
for the Year 2003 from the Institute of Medicine. The prize consists of a medal
and $20,000. Dr. Beck was also selected by the University of Louisville to receive
the Grawemeyer Award in psychology for the Year 2004. This award is a prize
of $200,000. Both honors recognize Beck’s outstanding and far reaching
contributions to psychiatry and mental health.
Beck, known as the “father of cognitive therapy,” sidestepped the accepted theories of the day, most of which relied heavily on Freudian analysis, and developed a pragmatic and highly productive technique for helping patients deal with emotional disorders. Believing these disorders to be the result of distortions of thoughts and/or biases, he showed patients how to successfully use cognitive techniques to modify their thought processing and bring about improvement of mood. Today, cognitive therapy is used around the world to treat a wide range of conditions -- including depression, bulimia nervosa, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, schizophrenia, substance abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Over the years, Beck has received funding from the National Institute of Mental Health and the Centers for Disease Control for his research in the areas of therapy and assessment of disorders. Most recently his efforts have been directed at using cognitive therapy to reduce suicide attempts and ameliorate schizophrenia.
Beck joined Penn’s Department of Psychiatry in 1954, with an undergraduate degree from Brown University and a medical degree from Yale University. He currently heads the Psychopathology Research Unit in Penn’s Department of Psychiatry. He has been a member of the editorial boards of several academic journals and has written over 450 articles. He is also the author or co-author of 17 books.
Beck has also received awards from the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the 2001 Heinz Award for the Human Condition.
Beck is the founder and president of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research, which opened in 1994. It provides therapy for patients, as well as research opportunities, and training at all levels, for cognitive therapists.
The Institute of Medicine has awarded the Sarnat Prize since 1992 to individuals, groups, or organizations that have demonstrated outstanding achievement in improving mental health. The prize recognizes 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, public health, nursing, psychiatry, and advocacy. The award is supported by an endowment created by Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat of Los Angeles, and speaks to their concern about the destructive effects of mental illness.
Charles Grawemeyer was an industrialist, entrepreneur and University of Louisville graduate, who chose to recognize powerful ideas or creative works in the sciences, arts and humanities. This has been continued by the Grawemeyer Foundation at the University of Louisville, which annually awards $200,000 each for works in music composition, education, ideas improving world order, psychology, and religion.
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to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and high-quality
patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School
of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school) and
the University of Pennsylvania Health System (created in 1993 as the nation’s
first integrated academic health system).
Penn’s School of Medicine is ranked #2 in the nation for receipt of NIH research funds; and ranked #4 in the nation in U.S. News & World Report’s most recent ranking of top research-oriented medical schools. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.
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Release available online at http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/jan04/beck.htm