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Irene Jakab Memorial Lecture

Irene Jakab Memorial Lecture Honors a Champion of Individuals
with 
Developmental Disabilities and Highlights New Lines of Research

The University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Psychiatry will host the inaugural Irene Jakab Memorial Lecture on March 27, 2015 at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC auditorium.

A native of Hungary, Irene Jakab, MD, PhD held faculty appointments at Harvard University prior to her recruitment by Dr. Thomas Detre in 1974 to the University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychiatry faculty. Dr. Jakab pursued her interests in psychiatry in art, art therapy and the psychopathology of expression, earning a reputation as a well-respected teacher and mentor to numerous students, trainees and faculty.

Dr. Jakab designed and directed the John Merck Program for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and co-occurring psychiatric disorders at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC from 1974 to 1982. The program was established with funding from George W. Merck and his wife Serena in honor of their son, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities and depression.  Over the years, the program has grown from a 10-bed inpatient unit for children to a comprehensive clinical and research center, the Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders.  The Center offers a wide range of services and resources including a 32-bed unit for patients across the lifespan, an outpatient clinic, and early childhood in-home and preschool, school-based, summer, and adult vocational and employment programs.

Dr. Jakab was a psychiatrist, scholar, and humanist with an unwavering commitment to the disabled and the sick.  In her will, she generously established a fund to support a lecture by a pioneer in research focusing on developmental disorders.

The Department is delighted to welcome Pasko Rakic, MD, PhD as the inaugural speaker for the Irene Jakab Memorial Lecture.  Dr. Rakic is the Dorys McConnell Duberg Professor of Neuroscience and Professor of Neurology at Yale University, where he also serves as Chair of the Department of Neurobiology and directs the Yale Kavli Institute for Neuroscience.  Dr. Rakic’s research focuses on developmental neurobiology, particularly cellular and molecular mechanisms of neuronal proliferation, migration and synaptogenesis during development and evolution of the cerebral and cerebellar cortex.  His analysis of mutant mice has shown how a single gene can change neuronal migration and position in the cortex that affects synaptic organization and, consequently, behavior. Dr. Rakic’s studies have provided insights into the origin of various developmental brain malformations and neuropsychiatric disorders, such as childhood epilepsy, autism, schizophrenia and forms of mental retardation.

In addition to presenting the Irene Jakab Memorial Lecture on March 27th at 12:00pm in the WPIC Auditorium, Dr. Rakic will also meet with trainees, clinicians, and researchers focusing on the identification and treatment of developmental disabilities, and to improving the quality of life for these patients and their families through ongoing support and resources.