Two Hopkins faculty members receive 'genius' awards

October 25, 2001

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has awarded two Johns Hopkins faculty members MacArthur Fellowships. The so-called "genius awards" go to Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, and Geraldine Seydoux, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular biology and genetics, both in the School of Medicine. Each award provides $500,000 over a five year period. Hopkins is the only institution with two fellows in this year's "class" of 23.

According to the MacArthur Foundation, the "no strings attached" awards are intended to recognize and support the creative efforts of those committed to discovering and advancing knowledge and to improving lives. A total of 611 MacArthur Fellows have been named since the program began in 1981, including three other Hopkins faculty members.

Jamison, a psychologist and best-selling author of An Unquiet Mind (1995), was recognized for her efforts to enhance mental health treatment, to improve patient support and advocacy, and to increase public awareness of psychiatric disorders. The author of numerous scientific articles, of an influential medical text on manic-depressive illness and of several books for a general audience, Jamison has helped to increase understanding of suicide and serious mood disorders.

"Jamison has combined the talents of a scientist with those of a writer who can explain the subject of mental illness to the afflicted," says Paul McHugh, M.D., the Henry Phipps Professor of Psychiatry at Hopkins. "Her concentration on manic-depressive disorder has demonstrated to patients that they can become free of the disorder and live a full life as she herself has done."

Seydoux's work is helping to illuminate some of the most complex processes in biology, according to the Foundation. Her research focuses on the molecular machinery of reproduction and biological development, or how a single cell becomes a fully formed adult animal. Her work on the molecular genetics of worms called nematodes has identified the mechanisms that generate germ cells, which are precursors to adult reproductive organs. She has also identified how initial asymmetry of the embryo, necessary for the development of specialized tissues, derives from the interaction of specific structures within the ovum and sperm at fertilization.

"Her work is truly pioneering," says Thomas J. Kelly, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chairman of molecular biology and genetics at Hopkins. "She has had a major impact on understanding fundamental problems that have challenged developmental biologists for over a century."

Other Hopkins faculty members to receive MacArthur Fellowships include Fouad Ajami, professor and director of Middle East Studies at The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, in 1982; Philip D. Curtin, professor emeritus of history at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, in 1983; and Allen Grossman, professor of english at The Johns Hopkins University, in 1989.
To interview Kay Redfield Jamison or Geraldine Seydoux, call Trent Stockton at 410-955-8665.

Media Contact: Trent Stockton 410-955-8665 Email:

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