Dr. Stephen Stahl to receive international prize for education in psychiatry and neurology

March 26, 2002

Stephen M. Stahl, M.D., professor of psychiatry, University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine, will receive the Lundbeck International Neuroscience Foundation (LINF) 2002 Prize for Education in Psychiatry and Neurology in ceremonies June 23 in Montreal, Canada at the 23rd Congress of the International College of Neuropsychopharmacology (CINP).

The LINF noted that Stahl has focused on the complex mechanism of psychiatric drug and disease interactions, and has "managed to develop teaching materials that present the essential concept of psychopharmacology and psychiatry in a simple visual form."

Combining graphics, animation and multimedia presentation, Stahl developed course content designed so that medical students can visualize a concept perceptually in the mind's eye, prior to grasping it conceptually with data and facts.

"One of the most significant barriers for a postgraduate trainee to learn the neuroscience and psychopharmacology of psychiatry is the complexity of the mechanisms of action for both drugs and diseases in the brain," Stahl said. "Trainees are in a better position to use drug therapies rationally if they know how they work and why they work, not just the dose and side effects that happen when they work."

Although most training is via lecture and reading, Stahl noted that most adults are predominantly visual learners. To help trainees visualize various disease and drug concepts, he developed teaching materials that include icons and animation. In addition, he designed a Powerpoint multimedia presentation that included case-based video vignettes, decision-tree analysis of cases, and cartoons of brain functioning and drug action.

To provide interactivity and repetition, Stahl designed a system of audience response keypads. Students were presented a pre-test prior to a lecture, then a post-test to gauge learning success.

"This allows three exposures to the material with two sets of questions and the lecture itself, which is more interesting than a simple reiteration," he said.

Based on his success with visual learning, interactivity and repetition, Stahl produced a textbook, "Essential Psychopharmacology," first published in 1996 with the second edition in 2000, and a CD-ROM that reiterates information in an interactive manner with narrations and animations.

Stahl has made his teaching techniques and tools available to other educators through a series of training courses that have been presented to hundreds of teachers from dozens of countries. He also has developed and presented a training program for investigators and clinicians who perform clinical ratings for multicenter trials of drug efficacy.

The LINF is part of the Lundbeck Institute in Denmark, an organization dedicated to the improvement of quality of life of people affected by diseases of the Central Nervous System.

University of California - San Diego

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