Nina Schooler & Jim Van Os Named the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Awardees
Dr Schooler is Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at State University of New York Downstate Health Sciences Center, New York, NY. Her research focuses on treatment of psychosis and schizophrenia from its earliest identification to long-term course and outcomes. She is a fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, the Collegium Internationale Neuropsychopharmacologicum (CINP), the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychological Society. Dr. Schooler has been President of the American Psychopathological Association and the Association for Clinical Psychosocial Research and served as an elected Councilor of the CINP. She received her PhD in Social Psychology from Columbia University in New York, and her career path has included leadership positions at the National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland, where she led a series of significant multicenter clinical trials of medication and psychosocial treatments for schizophrenia. Subsequently she held positions in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh and at the Zucker Hillside Hospital, prior to her present position at SUNY Downstate. She continues to collaborate with colleagues at the Zucker Hillside Hospital in studies of first episode psychosis most recently in a program that is creating a learning health system at community clinics across the United States for patients with recent onset of psychosis.
Jim van Os is a Dutch psychiatrist who trained in France and the UK, specializing in epidemiology and public health. In the late nineties, he developed research on the aetiology, course and preventive potential of subthreshold psychotic experiences in the general population, summarized in systematic reviews in Psychological Medicine in 2009 and 2013. He also focused on gene x trauma and gene x cannabis interactions as risk factors for psychosis, detailing the epidemiological foundations of these in Nature in 2010. He was coordinator of a 12M EU grant for the EU-GEI study to investigate these interactions further, culminating in a 2019 publication of novel interactions between exposomic and polygenic scores. He has been active in the area of diagnosis, serving in the DSM-5 psychosis working group, having worked on an evidence-based dimensionalised representation of the phenotype, described in the Lancet in 2009. On the basis of insights developed over the years, he is currently working, in cocreation with users, on mental health transformation in various European countries, in particular the Mental Health Ecosystem, in several pilot areas in the Netherlands.
He has been a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2011 and member of the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities since 2023. He was appointed Fellow of King's College London in 2016.
A Message from Nina Schooler, 2023 Lifetime Achievement Awardee
Schizophrenia and its course from onset to treatment resistance have been the focus of my now decades-long research career trajectory. Thus, having that career trajectory recognized by SIRS is extraordinarily moving. I’m honored and humbled to join the remarkable list of prior awardees.
I didn’t set out to work in this field. My PhD is in social psychology, but a job opportunity in 1962 at the National Institute of Mental Health’s Psychopharmacology Research Center was the beginning. I was the most junior and least knowledgeable person in a team led by Jonathan Cole that was conducting a multi-center randomized clinical trial comparing the then-new antipsychotics (neuroleptics) to placebo in recently diagnosed schizophrenia patients. That milestone study set my career path, which has been defined by increasingly responsible roles in such trials. They span a wide range: first-episode psychosis, long-term medication treatment often involving long-acting injectable antipsychotics, medication and psychosocial treatment, and treatment-resistant schizophrenia. I’ve had an amazing array of collaborators from whom I have learned so much. At this stage of my career, I am no longer the research leader but again a supporting collaborator working with two long-standing colleagues, Delbert Robinson and John Kane.
SIRS' strong commitment to developing a next generation of research leaders is equally important to me, and my durability in the field has given me the chance to see mentees and junior colleagues become leaders in the field. Mentoring junior colleagues continues to be central to my life. The talents and skills that a new generation of schizophrenia researchers possess gives me exposure to new ideas, new methods and what will be new opportunities for progress. The SIRS meeting represents a highlight in this regard. Of course I volunteer to being a mentor at the meeting and look forward to meeting someone new in Toronto as well as to seeing long standing colleagues and friends.
A Message from Jim Van Os, 2023 Lifetime Achievement Awardee
I am extremely honored to be held in such high regard by my peers in the Society. Receiving the lifetime achievement award for my research in the epidemiology and public health of the psychosis spectrum is truly humbling, especially given the esteemed company of previous awardees like Robin Murray, Will Carpenter and Patrick McGorry, all of whom I have had the privilege to work with. I am deeply grateful for the support and collaboration of my colleagues and our collaborators with lived experience in Maastricht, Utrecht and the EUGEI consortium – together we traveled the bumpy road of epistemic, methodological and cocreative challenges facing researchers in this area. This award serves as a testament to the impact we have attempted to make and motivates me to continue working towards improving the lives of those affected by psychosis spectrum disorder.
A Message from Tim Bigdeli
I am delighted to learn that Professor Nina R. Schooler is being awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Schizophrenia International Research Society (SIRS). Dr. Schooler is among the founders of the modern field of psychopharmacology. She has authored seminal papers and led landmark initiatives, including the first large-scale multi-site clinical trials for antipsychotic medications. Reviewing Dr. Schooler’s expansive works cited, this reader feels humbled, amazed, and exceptionally fortunate to have had the opportunity to interact with and learn from her. Consider the first CV entry, titled “Sex and race differences in response to drug treatment among schizophrenics” and published in Psychopharmacologia in 1966. This is remarkable in its prescience and enduring relevance—here we are, arriving at long last in the promised era of precision psychiatry, and Dr. Schooler’s worldview and legacy are as current and relevant as ever. For many of us, it is Dr Schooler’s mentorship and tutelage that has prepared and inspired us to embark on our own challenging research endeavors. Within the international schizophrenia research community, Dr. Schooler is respected, admired, and beloved. Her wit and wisdom are legendary!
A Message from Lynn DeLisi
There can be no one more deserving of the SIRS Lifetime Achievement Award than Dr. Schooler. She has dedicated a lifetime career of service to the field of schizophrenia research by having a tremendous impact on discovery and direction of the practice of psychopharmacology and early interventions for patients with schizophrenia.
Dr. Schooler received her PhD in Social Psychology from Columbia University in New York. Her career path has included leadership positions at the National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland, where she led a series of significant multicenter clinical trials of medication and psychosocial treatments for schizophrenia and at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, in Pennsylvania, where she directed the Psychosis Research Program and was Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology. She then served as Director of Psychiatry Research at the Zucker Hillside Hospital, conducting research in treatment of first-episode psychosis and negative symptoms in schizophrenia prior to her present position at SUNY Downstate, where she is Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.
Much of her research has focused on novel treatments of schizophrenia from its earliest identification to long-term course and outcomes. Examples include 1) a study of treatment for first episode psychosis conducted at 34 clinical sites in the US that compared an integrated psychosocial and pharmacologic treatment to usual community care, 2) a study evaluating the use of technology assisted case management for schizophrenia patients who have just been discharged from the hospital with the goal of preventing rehospitalization during the critical 6-month time following discharge and 3) a large trial that compares a long-acting injectable antipsychotic to oral medication in schizophrenia patients early in their treatment exposure. She continues to lead studies on first episode psychosis, most recently a program that is creating a learning health system at community clinics across the United States for patients with recent onset of psychosis.
Congratulations, Nina! You have long deserved this recognition and honor.
A Message from Sinan Guloksuz
I am thrilled to see that Dr. Jim van Os has been honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Schizophrenia International Research Society. As a physician-scientist with psychiatric epidemiology and public health background, Dr. van Os has made substantial contributions to schizophrenia research. He has shown that schizophrenia can be viewed as lying at the extreme end of the psychosis spectrum and has many commonalities with affective psychosis. His works transformed our perspective on schizophrenia and instilled hope. He set off in a pioneering direction to investigate the role of socioenvironmental factors and gene-environment interaction across the extended psychosis spectrum. He led the large multinational European project EUGEI that paved the path through identifying gene-environment interactions in schizophrenia. His impact on schizophrenia research has been beyond the borders through building research capacities, providing mentorship to young and aspiring researchers in the Majority World, and creating opportunities for them to thrive in their careers. Dr. van Os has also fostered national and international networks to develop and implement a clinical practice supported by co-creation with people with lived experience in mental healthcare.
A Message from Kim Do, SIRS Awards Committee Chair
Dr Nina Schooler’s recognition as the SIRS Lifetime Achievement Award Winner is a source of great enthusiasm and satisfaction for me. The accomplishments she has fulfilled during her career are highly impressive and absolutely outstanding at manifold levels.
I particularly admire her forefront achievements on improving the lives of people with schizophrenia, focusing on the role of antipsychotic medication in the early stages of schizophrenia for over 50 years. Her dedication to clinical care including family and community support, ethical issues in clinical trials and side effects of anti-psychotic medications is remarkable. Her pioneering work aimed at evidence-based psychiatry, and efforts directed at the optimal use of pharmacological treatments in early psychosis brought her many awards, honors, and grants.
Nina Schooler has been an inspiring leader and role model for many of us. I feel privileged to have been able to interact with her and hope we will have many more occasions to do so. I want to express my gratitude to Nina for all the precious contributions she made to the field of schizophrenia research. Nina, you are an exceptional personality, scientist, researcher, mentor and teacher.
Dr Jim Van Os is certainly a most deserving winner of the SIRS Lifetime Achievement Award. His brilliant career is characterized among others by the many innovations he implemented in the field of psychiatry, and his constant concern for patients as well as for bridging research issues with clinical challenges. He has shown admirable leadership in his activities as a researcher, health care provider, and teacher, which have been largely recognized.
There are so many different major contributions that Dr Van Os has made to research in the aetiology, course and risks of psychosis that it would take pages and pages to fully outline all of them. Just to name a few, his pioneering focus on gene x trauma and gene x cannabis as well as on exposomic and polygenic scores set the foundation for diagnosis and prevention in schizophrenia. His current work, in co-creation with people with lived experience, stands at the forefront of mental healthcare transformation in Europe.
Jim Van Os’s accomplishments and the breadth of his work are highly impactful. He has fostered excellence in the younger generations, and inspired many colleagues in the field of mental health. The quality of his publications as well as the outstanding research funding he achieved speak to the value with which his peers hold his contributions.