2023 Outstanding Clinical / Community Research Award

Dolores Malaspina Named the 2023 Outstanding Clinical / Community Research Awardee

Dr. Dolores Malaspina is Professor of Psychiatry, Neuroscience and Genetic and Genomic Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York where she directs the system wide Psychosis Program. She trained in psychiatry and launched her career at Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute, becoming the director of Clinical Neurobiology and launching the “Schizophrenia Research Unit” (SRU) and high-risk programs. She subsequently became the Chairman and the Anita and Joseph Steckler Professor of Psychiatry at New York University and the Bellevue Hospital Center also directing the multidisciplinary “Institute for Social and Psychiatric Initiatives” (InSPIRES) to study the heterogeneous underpinnings of psychosis and train beginning investigators. Dr. Malaspina holds degrees in environmental biology (Boston U), zoology (Rutgers U) and epidemiology (Columbia U), in addition to medicine (New Jersey Medical School) which together established the framework for her translational studies across populations, patients and healthy subjects. She first proposed and demonstrated large effects of advancing paternal age on the risk for schizophrenia, explaining the substantial impact of rare gene variants in its genetic architecture. Current work on the gut-brain-axis links hippocampal inflammation to peripheral autonomic neuropathy. A focus on community exposures, trauma and life course adversity is central to her perspectives and she also serves at the Vice Chair for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the Mount Sinai Department of Psychiatry.

A Message from Dolores Malaspina, 2023 Outstanding Clinical / Community Research Awardee

I am so honored and delighted to receive this award from my peers.  My career was inspired by the courage and struggles of my sister Eileen, who suffered from a severe psychotic illness, and I have worked continually to impact the lives of people with schizophrenia through research and clinical care. Building on the family- sporadic distinction, I proposed paternal age and also prenatal adversity as seeds of psychosis, identifying hippocampal inflammation as a forme furste of systemic inflammation. My scientific journey is enriched by my colleagues, so many of whom are in this organization, dear mentees and fellow travelers, particularly Cheryl Corcoran who nominated me for this award, and the persons with severe mental illness I have had the privilege to know and provide clinical care.

A Message from Cheryl Corcoran

Dr. Dolores Malaspina’s contribution to schizophrenia research has been groundbreaking. She was among the first to show that hippocampal activity is increased at rest, advanced paternal age is a risk factor, olfactory impairment is core to social deficits, stress exposure and social determinants are modifiable causal factors, and the rest of the body matters too, including the gut and interoception. Her enthusiasm and joy are contagious, and she models what it means to be both a successful physician-scientist and loving sibling/child/parent/friend. She is also a superb clinician and community advocate. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award than my mentor, collaborator and friend, Dr. Dolores Malaspina.

A Message from Kim Do, SIRS Awards Committee Chair

I sincerely pay tribute to Dr Dolores Malaspina’ track record, which we are very pleased to honor with the SIRS Outstanding Clinical/Community Research Award. Her exceptional career includes manifold impressive achievements, which have been instrumental in advancing schizophrenia research. She has also been a scientific and personal role model for a great number of mentees, with a particular focus on issues linked to diversity and inclusion. Many young researchers and clinicians have gone on to lead their own successful careers thanks to her enthusiastic and generous commitment.

Dr Malaspina has been a pioneer in manifold ways: she was among the first to show that a) hippocampal perfusion is increased in schizophrenia, predicting psychosis risk and hippocampal volume reduction; b) there is a robust association between advanced paternal age and schizophrenia risk; c) olfactory impairment is core to social deficits and negative symptoms of schizophrenia, predictive of onset in at-risk youth. Her current study on the gut-brain axis and abnormal interoception in schizophrenia is again another paradigm shift.

Dr Malaspina has explored numerous innovative hypotheses in translational research as well as patient care, which have greatly benefitted her peers as well as people suffering from psychosis. Her skills and perseverance have allowed her to overcome many challenges, and her accomplishments have been widely acknowledged. We thank Dr Malaspina for her most valued contributions to our field.

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