The Robert-Sommer Award

The Robert Sommer Medal is awarded during the GISS Conference to honour the best contributions made by a senior researcher during the past years in the field of schizophrenia.

Only the best researchers in the field will be taken into account. The previous awardees chose the winner. The name of the winner is communicated during the GISS Conference.

Past winners of the Robert Sommer Award

2023 Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg

Prof. Meyer-Lindenberg is Director of the Central Institute of Mental Health and Head of the Executive Board, as well as the Medical Director of the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the Institute, based in Mannheim, Germany, and Professor and Chairman of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the University of Heidelberg in Heidelberg, Germany. He is board certified in psychiatry, psychotherapy, and neurology. Before coming to Mannheim in 2007, he spent ten years as a scientist at the National Institutes of Mental Health, Bethesda, USA.

Prof. Meyer-Lindenberg is the author of more than 480 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters in journals such as Nature, Science, Nature Neuroscience, Nature Medicine, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Nature Genetics, Neuron, PNAS, and others. He has been continuously named as one of the most highly cited scientists in the world. He is Editor-in-Chief of the new Journal of the ECNP Neuroscience Applied, associate editor of Science Advances and on the editorial board of a number of other journals. He has been principal investigator in several large national and international studies on innovative biological treatments for schizophrenia.

Prof. Meyer-Lindenberg is member of numerous scientific associations, such as Leopoldina – Deutsche Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften, Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften, President of the German association for psychiatry, psychotherapy, psychosomatics/Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychiatrie, Psychotherapie, Psychosomatik und Nervenheilkunde (DGPPN) 2023 – 2024, and Spokes-Person of the German Centre for Mental Health/ Deutsches Zentrums für Psychische Gesundheit (DZPG) from May 2023 on. His research interests focus on the development of novel treatments for severe psychiatric disorders, especially schizophrenia, through an application of multimodal neuroimaging, genetics and enviromics to characterize brain circuits underlying the risk for mental illness and cognitive dysfunction.

In recognition of his research, Prof. Meyer-Lindenberg has received awards throughout his career, including: Bristol-Myers-Squibb Young Investigator Award (1998), NIH Award for Excellence in Biomedical Research (1999, 2000, 2001), NARSAD Young Investigator Award (2000), Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service (2006), Roche/Nature Medicine Award for Translational Neuroscience (2006), the Joel Elkes International Award for Clinical Research from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (2006), A.E. Bennett Award of the Society for Biological Psychiatry (2007), NARSAD Distinguished Investigator Award (2009), Kurt Schneider Scientific Award (2010), the Hans-Jörg Weitbrecht-Preis für Klinische Neurowissenschaften (2011), the ECNP Neuropsychopharmacology Award (2012), the Prix ROGER DE SPOELBERCH (2014), and the 2016 CINP Lilly Neuroscience Clinical Research Award.

2016 Barbara Sahakian & Trevor Robbins

Barbara Sahakian and her husband, Trevor Robbins, University of Cambridge, are distinguished researchers in the field of biological psychiatry with one of their major foci on cognition and psychosis and they have been acclaimed for their innovative achievements in translational research in this field.

Barbara Sahakian is Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology at the University of Cambridge, Department of Psychiatry and MRC/Wellcome Trust Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute. In addition, she is also an Honorary Clinical Psychologist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge. Our awardee holds a PhD and a DSc from the University of Cambridge, is President of the International Neuroethics Society, Past-President of the British Association for Psychopharmacology and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. Professor Sahakian has an international reputation in the fields of psychopharmacology, neuropsychology, neuropsychiatry, neuroimaging, and neuroethics. She has over 390 publications in high impact scientific journals, many in high-impact journals, with over 16000 citations to her name. She co-invented the neuropsychological CANTAB test battery and has been a key member of the Society for Neuroscience Committee on Women in Neuroscience, and has extensively encouraged public engagement in science through media communication, science festivals and public lectures where possible. Barbara Sahakian is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, and the current President of the British Association for Psychopharmacology.

Trevor Robbins has been Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge since 1997. He has been elected to the Chair of Experimental Psychology (and Head of Department) at Cambridge University from October 2002. He is also Director of the Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute (BCNI), jointly funded by the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust. Our awardee is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society, the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Royal Society. He has been President of the European Behavioural Pharmacology Society and has won several distinguished scientific awards (Society's inaugural Distinguished Scientist Award 2001, the American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions 2011, the Grete Lundbeck European Brain Research Prize 2014). He has been included in the list of the 100 most cited neuroscientists by ISI, has published over 600 full papers in scientific journals and has co-edited seven books. Professor Trevor Robbins is renowned for his studies in the field of cognitive and behavioural neuroscience, with a special emphasis on psychopharmacology. He is particularly interested in the cognitive functions of the frontal lobes, in understanding the neural basis of motivation and reward, in the neuropsychological basis of drug addiction and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and in the treatment of neurocognitive disorders, such as schizophrenia, with ‘cognitive enhancing’ drugs.

2013 Christos Pantelis

Professor Christos Pantelis is an NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow, Foundation Professor of Neuropsychiatry and Scientific Director of the Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre at The University of Melbourne and Melbourne Health. Prof Pantelis holds an honorary Principal Research Fellow position at the Florey Neuroscience Institute and heads the Adult Mental Health Rehabilitation Unit at Sunshine Hospital. He leads a team of over 80 staff, researchers and students that have been undertaking neuroimaging and neuropsychological work in schizophrenia and psychosis, and other psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders since 1993 in Australia.

His work has focused on brain structural and functional changes during the transition to psychosis. His group was the first to describe progressive brain structural changes at psychosis onset, with a seminal paper published in The Lancet in 2003. He has published over 380 papers and chapters and three books, including one of the first books on the neuropsychology of schizophrenia, a book on “Olfaction and the Brain” and a book on “The Neuropsychology of Mental Illness”. He has established a unique resource of over 5,000 multimodal brain scans in patients with schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric disorders, including longitudinal imaging. Recent work focuses on early developmental disorders, including children with schizotypal features and autism.

He has been funded by a number of NHMRC grants, including two Program Grants, recent international collaborative EU-NHMRC grants and a national NHMRC Enabling Grant to establish the Australian Schizophrenia Research Bank (ASRB). He is an investigator on a $23 million CRC grant examining biomarkers in neurodegenerative and psychotic disorders. He has won a number of awards, including the University of Melbourne 2003 Selwyn-Smith Medical Research Prize, was highly commended in the 2009 Victorian Minister of Health Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Mental Health, and 2011 NARSAD Distinguished Investigator Grant from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (US). He is on the editorial board of a number of journals. He is passionate about photography.

2010 David A. Lewis

Dr. Lewis is the director of the Translational Neuroscience Program in the Department of Psychiatry, director of the National Institute of Mental Health Conte Center for the Neuroscience of Mental Disorders, and professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. He is also medical director and director of research at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Pittsburgh. Dr. Lewis is associate editor of the Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, section editor of Neuroscience, and deputy editor of the American Journal of Psychiatry, and serves on numerous editorial boards. Among his most recent honours, Dr. Lewis received the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation Freedom to Discover Grant in Neuroscience, as well as the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression Lieber Prize.

Within Dr. Lewis' laboratory, a general translational research strategy is employed to focus on understanding the organization and the functional properties of the neural circuitry of the prefrontal cortex and interconnected brain regions, and the alterations of this circuitry in schizophrenia. These investigations involve six components: 1) The normal functional architecture of the primate neocortex; 2) The postnatal development of this circuitry; 3) The cognitive functions mediated by this circuitry; 4) The disturbances of this circuitry in schizophrenia; 5) Experimental tests of the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of these circuitry disturbances; and 6) Clinical trials of novel compounds predicted to improve prefrontal dysfunction in individuals with schizophrenia.

The overall objective of the Translational Neuroscience Program, directed by David A. Lewis, MD, is to understand the neurobiological basis for complex human cognitive and emotional functions and the manner in which alterations in the brain give rise to the types of disturbances in these functions that characterise certain psychiatric disorders.

2008 Shitij Kapur

Prof. Shitij Kapur is one of the most outstanding psychiatrists and neuroscientists of our time. Currently, he holds the professorship of Schizophrenia, Imaging and Therapeutics at the Institute of Psychiatry, King´s College, London, UK. He is also a member of the editorial boards of Schizophrenia Research, Schizophrenia Bulletin, and BMC Psychiatry. Furthermore, he is a founding member of the Schizophrenia International Research Society.

Prof. Kapur received his undergraduate degree in medicine from DAV College, Chandigarh, India. After this, he completed his studies at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in 1988. After a four year residency training in psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, he moved to Toronto, in 1993 where he was active until 2007. From 1993-1996 he held a fellowship at Clarke Institute in Toronto and completed his PhD in neuroscience at the Institute of Medical Science in Toronto. From 1994-1998 he was appointed Research Scientist at the Rotman Research Institute in Toronto and was appointed assistant professor at the Department of Psychiatry in 1997, where he became associate professor in 1999 and full professor in 2007. At the same time, he was appointed Chief of Research at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. In 2007 Prof. Kapur moved to the Institute of Psychiatry at King´s College, London, UK.

Shitij Kapur research focus is in the field of biology of psychosis and antipsychotic drug action on the brain. His preferred methods are functional brain imaging and animal models to study the role of brain receptors and neurotransmitters, especially dopamine. Professor Kapur has received numerous national and international awards, including the Young Explorer Award from the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, the AE Bennett Award from the Society for Biological Psychiatry, and the Paul Janssen Award from the CINP.

2006 Lynn DeLisi

Lynn E. DeLisi, MD is currently Professor of Psychiatry, New York University and Associate Director of the Center for Advanced Brain Imaging, The Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, Orangeburg, New York. In addition, she is the co-editor-in-chief and co-founder of the Elsevier journal, Schizophrenia Research and secretary of two professional organizations: The International Society of Psychiatric Genetics (ISPG) and The Schizophrenia International Research Society (SIRS). Her major research accomplishments are the findings of progressive structural brain change in schizophrenia, performing the initial pioneering studies of first episode schizophrenia and connecting the genetic mechanism for this illness to its underlying brain structural change. She has been a proponent for searching for genes that influence cognition and neuropsychiatric disease on the sex chromosomes and is currently examining the disturbances present in the XXY chromosomal anomaly as a model for finding these genes. She also continues her research on schizophrenia by determining factors through functional and structural brain imaging that distinguish people at high-risk for schizophrenia.

2004 Uta and Chris Frith

Uta and Chris Frith have made an outstanding contribution to Psychology both individually and together. Professor Uta Frith is best known for her research on autism spectrum disorders. Her book 'Autism, Explaining the Enigma' (1989) has been translated into many different languages. She was one of the initiators of the study of Asperger's Syndrome in the UK and her work on reading development, spelling and dyslexia has been highly influential. She is Deputy Director of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London.

Chris Frith is Professor of Cognitive Neuropsychology at the Institute of Neurology, University College London. He pioneered the development of functional brain imaging as an important technique in contemporary neuroscience. His research team has mapped the brain areas involved in reading, naming, memory, face recognition and theory of mind, and, with his wife Uta, he has made important discoveries regarding the basic mechanisms of impaired in dyslexia and autism. His monograph, 'The Cognitive Neuropsychology of Schizophrenia' (1992), has become a classic.

Chris and Uta Frith have a joint interest in the study of the brain activity during interactions between two people. They postulate that - as described in the Theory of Mind (TOM) - the mental representation of wishes and intentions of others, play a major role in both disorders, namely autism and schizophrenia. Both awardees share a unique capacity to make neuroscience a charismatic and ever inovative field of research and to make it attractive for young investigators. Moreover, they have turned the mental gap between psychology and psychiatry into a highly and happily frequented bridge.

2002 Daniel R. Weinberger

Daniel Weinberger is Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at the George Washington University, School of Medicine. Since 1986 he heads the Clinical Brain Disorders Branch at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) of the National Institutes of Health, since 1998 in Bethesda. He is one of the leading researchers on prefrontal cortex deficits in schizophrenia and he has managed to create one of the world's most advanced and ingenious teams for the study of neurodevelopmental and cognitive deficits and their background in schizophrenia.Prof. Weinberger and his team have provided exquisite insight into the perceptional and executive context in schizophrenic cognitive deficits. Prof. Daniel Weinberger has shown the outstanding civil courage to stand up against the practice of premature availability of weapons in the hands of children.

2000 Robin M. Murray

Professor Robin Murray received his medical degree from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and took his Boards in Internal Medicine there in 1972. He then trained at the Maudsley Hospital in London and has remained there ever since, apart from 1 year as MRC Fellow at NIMH. He was Dean of the Institute of Psychiatry from 1982 to 1989 and Professor of Psychological Medicine of King's College School of Medicine from 1989 to 1999. He is now Professor of Psychiatry and Head of the Division of Psychological Medicine at the Institute and Guy's, King's and St Thomas' Medical School. Between 1994 and 1996, Professor Murray held the Presidency of the Association of European Psychiatrists. His special interest is in the understanding and treatment of psychotic illnesses, particularly schizophrenia. As Head of the Psychosis Research Group, the largest of its kind at any centre outside the USA, he chairs a group of more than 100 researchers working in epidemiology, molecular genetics, neuropsychiatry, neuroimaging, neurodevelopment, neuropharmacology and related fields. Professor Murray also runs a clinical team at the National Psychosis Unit, taking referrals from all parts of England of people with resistant psychotic illnesses.

1998 Nancy Andreasen

Prof. Andreasen, who has been at the breaking edge of Psychosis research for years, is regarded as the “grande dame” of American Psychiatry and is publisher or co-publisher of the most important international psychiatric journals, such as the American Journal of Psychiatry. Since 1981, she has been professor and head of the Centre for Psychiatry at the University of Iowa/USA. She is head, among others, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Section of Neuroscience and members of the most important psychiatric associations. Prof.Andreasen's main research interests are the neurobiology of psychoses, neuroimaging, cognitive and behavioural neurosciences, phenomenology and classification of schizophrenia, as well as the development of diagnostic instruments and clinincal inventories in schizophrenia research.

1996 Timothy Crow

Prof. Timothy Crow, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, and director of the “Prince of Wales International Centre for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression” is one of the most distinguished researchers in schizophrenia research. His areas of research are linguistic tests about the development of psychoses, molecular genetic, neurochemical and morphological changes during schizophrenia as well as the connection between Psychosis and working memory. He is the protagonist of various theories, such as the Laterality theory of schizophrenia.

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