University of Texas psychiatrist wins prize for research on pediatric depression, bipolar disorder
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston psychiatrist and professor of child and adolescent psychiatry Dr. Karen Wagner was selected as the co-recipient of the Colvin Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Mood Disorders Research by the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.
She accepted the award Friday, Oct. 26 at the organization's National Awards Dinner in New York City.
According to a press release, for the past decade Wagner has sought to correct the dearth of evidence-based prescribing for children by focusing her research on randomized, placebo-controlled trials of the major drugs used to treat pediatric depression and bipolar disorder. Before this, there was little data available, forcing doctors to treat their adolescent patients as adults.
"This is the largest prize in psychiatry," Dr. Robert Hirschfeld, chairman of the psychiatry department at UTMB, said in the press release.
According to the release, Wagner's research included the anticonvulsant drugs oxcarbazepine (Trileptal) and divalproex (Depakote), the antipsychotic drug risperidone (Risperdal) and the mood stabilizer lithium for treatment of bipolar disorder in children. She also studied the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors escitalopram (Lexapro), citalopram (Celexa) and sertraline (Zoloft) for the treatment of pediatric depression.
"One of the most surprising findings was that divalproex, which is very effective for treating bipolar disorder in adults, does not work for children in the same way," Wagner said in the release. "That was a truly unexpected finding."
Wagner's research on treating children with mood disorders has been published in the "Journal of the American Medical Association," the "Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry," the "Archives of General Psychiatry and the American Journal of Psychiatry," according to the release.
Of the award, Hirschfeld added, "It has never before been given to a child psychiatrist. Her work has really changed how children are now treated for these disorders."
Wagner is the Marie B. Gale Professor and vice chairwoman of the psychiatry and behavioral sciences department and director of the child and adolescent psychiatry division at UTMB. She has been a member of the National Advisory Mental Health Council of the National Institutes of Health. She is editor of the "Journal of Clinical Psychiatrists" Child and Adolescent section and president-elect of the Society of Professors of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
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