From The Quarterly, Summer 2014
A Special Presidential Commendation was presented to Mr. and Mrs. Lieber by APA President Jeffrey A. Lieberman, M.D., at its 167th Annual Meeting on May 5, 2014 in New York City. Dr. Lieberman, Psychiatristin-Chief at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, said the award was in recognition of the Liebers’ “passionate and generous philanthropy and support of psychiatric research.”
For more than a quarter of a century, Connie and Steve Lieber have provided unwavering moral and material support to unravel the mysteries of the brain, and to better understand and treat mental illness. Their frustration with the limited treatments available for their daughter, exacerbated by the stigma associated with mental illness, instilled in them the overwhelming conviction that what was needed above all was more scientific discovery into these illnesses. Since that time they have mobilized every resource imaginable to fund cutting-edge research and educate the public.
From the beginning, they believed that research was the best avenue to find meaningful and lasting solutions to alleviate the suffering caused by mental illnesses. Their work to support psychiatric research began in the early 1980s through their family foundation, the Essel Foundation. The Essel Foundation is one of two family foundations to fund the organization’s overhead, so that 100 percent of donations for research are invested directly into scientific grants.
After attending one of Columbia University’s early schizophrenia conferences in the early 1980s, they met Herbert Pardes, M.D., who was in the early stages of helping launch the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation and creating its Scientific Council. Mrs. Lieber joined the Foundation’s Board of Directors in 1986 (the Foundation was then known as NARSAD or the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression) and went on to serve as its President for 18 years; she is now President Emerita. Mr. Lieber serves as Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Directors.
The Liebers initiated prizes for outstanding achievement in psychiatric research with the Lieber Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Schizophrenia Research in 1987; two Lieber Prizewinners, Arvid Carlsson, M.D., Ph.D., and Paul Greengard, Ph.D., have gone on to win Nobel Prizes. They co-founded the Schizophrenia Research Center at Columbia University Medical School; the Learning Center at Columbia University, known as the Lieber Clinic; the Neuroscience program at Williams College, and the Lieber Institute for Brain Development at Johns Hopkins University.