VCU psychiatry professor Dr. Kenneth Kendler has spent the past 28 years studying how genetic risk factors interact with the environment in influencing a range of psychiatric problems, including schizophrenia, drug and alcohol dependence, and anxiety disorders.
"To try to understand the nature of these diseases, you need to understand genes, you need to understand the environment and you need to understand how they relate to each other over developmental time," Kendler says. In recognition of his research, which involves international collaborations in China, England, Sweden and other countries, Kendler has received the prestigious 2011 Jean Delay Prize from the World Psychiatric Association, along with 40,000 euros (about $57,000). The award honors his contributions in building bridges between the biological, psychological and social aspects of psychiatry.
After he returns from the September awards ceremony in Argentina, Kendler will be working on a DNA survey of incoming VCU freshmen. "We're hoping to bring home to the VCU community some of the things we've learned in these more international collaborations," Kendler says.