Addressing the Major Public Health Issue of Vascular Disease in Mood Disorders

Jess G. Fiedorowicz, M.D., Ph.D., University of Iowa, expert on mood disorders
Dr. Fiedorowicz

Jess Fiedorowicz, M.D., Ph.D., an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry, Epidemiology, and Internal Medicine at the University of Iowa, won the 2012 Klerman Prize on July 27, 2012 in New York City for his work addressing the major public health issue of vascular disease in mood disorders. The Klerman Prize was established by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (then NARSAD) in 1994 in memory of Gerald Klerman, M.D., a distinguished psychiatric researcher who served as a mentor in his positions at the National Institute of Mental Health and Yale, Harvard and Cornell universities. The Prize honors exceptional clinical research by a NARSAD Young Investigator Grantee.

Dr. Fiedorowicz used his 2008 NARSAD Young Investigator Grant to explore and discover the most relevant mechanisms underlying the high mortality rate from vascular disease. Individuals with mood and psychotic disorders are more than twice as likely to die as individuals who are not affected by such disorders and are of the same gender and age. Most of these excess deaths are due to suicide and vascular disease. Dr. Fiedorowicz seeks to identify the mechanisms involved so that novel means may be developed to reduce the risk of developing vascular disease.

Dr. Fiedorowicz’ research is focused on understanding the effects of chronic symptoms and pharmacological treatments in individuals with mood disorders. His publications demonstrate a relationship between the chronicity of mood elevation symptoms (hypomania/mania) and cardiovascular mortality that appears related to impairments in the function of the endothelium, or inner lining of blood vessels.

In addition to his research, Dr. Fiedorowicz is actively involved in medical student education, serving as Assistant Clerkship Director for the Psychiatry Clerkship and Director of Medical Student Electives in Psychiatry at the University of Iowa. For his teaching, he has received awards at the departmental and collegiate level as well as at the national level with the Devneil Vaidya Junior Faculty Teaching Award from the Association of Directors of Medical Student Education in Psychiatry.  

Clinically, Dr. Fiedorowicz’ interest is in comprehensive and integrated medical and psychiatric care for individuals with brain and behavior disorders. At the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, he serves on an inpatient unit specializing in neuropsychiatry and psychotic disorders. Additionally, he sees outpatients, primarily with bipolar disorders, for combined medication management and psychotherapy and serves as a consultant in the weight management clinic in the Division of Endocrinology.

Dr. Fiedorowicz says that the support of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation has been critical for starting his career and that he is grateful for the “opportunity to build a foundation for relevant research addressing critical public health issues faced by persons with psychiatric disorders.” He says: “Support from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation with a NARSAD Young Investigator Grant was critical to starting my career in psychiatry research. The funded work yielded several presentations and publications. During the period of funding, I was also able to build collaborations, mentor several students, and secure funding for a subsequent career development award through the National Institute of Mental Health."

Article comments

I have three sons diagnosed with schizophrenia, two are identical twins. I have one daughter diagnosed with rapid cycling bi polar disorder. I have one son diagnosed with type one diagnosis, and one son with Kallmann's syndrome. One of the son and myself were tested for MTHFR factor and both of us were positive on one(?) (hetero...). I am presently having this son tested for Hughes syndrome or something similar. After many years of trail and error with the medications, the identical twins are doing very well on clozaril/lamictal and my daughter with bi polar disorder is doing very well on clozaril/welbutrin. The other two are also doing well with their medications. Tragically, we lost our oldest son to suicide. Please lead me in any direction that may help my children. While they are doing well, life certainly requires a great deal of tedious management. Thank you for the work you are doing. I really had a feeling these mental illnesses had something to do with the vascular system. Jill Vaughn, M.A. ed.

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Please note that researchers cannot give specific recommendations or advice about treatment; diagnosis and treatment are complex and highly individualized processes that require comprehensive face-to- face assessment. Please visit our "Ask an Expert" section to see a list of Q & A with NARSAD Grantees.
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