The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation celebrated 25 years of Empowering Research for Productive Lives and honored eight extraordinary scientists at its Annual National Awards Dinner in New York City on October 26.
James T. R. Walters, M.D., Ph.D., was chosen as this year's winner of the Sidney R. Baer, Jr. Prize for Innovative and Promising Schizophrenia Research. Dr. Walters, a 2009 NARSAD Young Investigator Grantee, is Clinical Senior Lecturer at the United Kingdom’s Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics at Cardiff University, Wales. He is conducting research into the nature and genetic basis of cognitive deficits in schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders. Dr. Walters demonstrated that a schizophrenia genetic risk variant in the gene ZNF804A (discovered by 2012 Lieber Prizewinners Drs. O’Donovan and Owen) has a counterintuitive action on cognition: it is more strongly associated with a subtype of the disorder characterized by preserved cognition. In other work, he identified a schizophrenia risk gene as being associated with episodic memory and with smaller volume in the hippocampus, a brain area involved in episodic memory deficits.
Dr. Walters was selected by Lieber Prizewinners Drs. Michael O’Donovan and Michael Owen. Every year, the Baer Prize is selected by the current year’s Lieber Prize for Schizophrenia Research winner, and is typically a NARSAD Young Investigator at the Lieber Prize winner’s institution conducting outstanding work in schizophrenia research.