McLean Psychologist Recognized for Excellence in Research, Mentoring

January 17, 2003

Public Affairs

Belmont, MA - Philip Holzman, PhD, co-director of McLean Hospital's Psychology Research Laboratory, has been awarded the Alexander Gralnick Research Investigator Award by the American Psychological Association (APA). The award recognizes exceptional research and mentoring, and will be bestowed biannually, with Holzman being the first recipient.

Philip Holzman, PhD

Philip Holzman, PhD

Holzman has donated the $20,000 he received as a cash award to McLean's Psychology Research Laboratory in order to support ongoing work.

"Research is a collaborative effort by all of us, and that effort is being recognized by this award," said Holzman.

Holzman, who recently turned 80, began his career at McLean in 1977, while simultaneously serving as the Esther and Sidney R. Rabb Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. His research focuses on the study of major psychotic illnesses, particularly schizophrenia. With his colleagues Steven Matthysse, PhD, and Deborah Levy, PhD, he has discovered a number of physiological and psychological traits that are considerably more prevalent in non-psychotic family members than in schizophrenia itself. Some of these traits include impairments in eye tracking, deficits in very short-term memory for spatial locations, a distinctive quality of thought slippage that is apparent in language use and cranio-facial dysmophic features. Holzman and his colleagues are studying these traits intensively, to see if they are expressions of underlying genes related to schizophrenia. The researchers assume these traits can provide localizing information in the brain, either anatomically or functionally, and have sufficiently high rates of occurrence in unaffected first-degree relatives that they can be effectively used for genetic linkage analysis.

The Psychology Research Laboratory has been conducting physiological and genetic studies for 25 years. More than 50 undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral students have worked in the lab for varying periods of time, most of whom have gone on to establish their own independent careers. The young apprentice scientists learn by doing experiments and analyzing data while receiving supervision from Holzman, Matthysse and Levy.

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