Philip Harvey, Ph.D., Becomes First Psychologist to Receive John Blair Barnwell Award

Surrounded by colleagues and staff at the Miami VA, Philip D. Harvey, Ph.D., was presented the John Blair Barnwell Award on Monday by Theresa Gleason, Ph.D., the VA’s Acting Deputy Chief Research and Development Officer. Gleason, who was visiting from Washington, noted that it is the highest honor for scientific achievement presented by her department and the first time the award has gone to a psychologist.

The award recognizes Harvey for his exemplary involvement in and service to the VA and clinical profession, as well as his significant contributions that have improved the understanding of cognitive and functional deficits in patients with schizophrenia and advanced diagnosis and treatment in veteran populations.

“It’s a real honor to receive this award as it mutually recognizes the health care provided to veterans while conducting research,” said Harvey, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and Director of the Division of Psychology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “It is especially meaningful because our work at the Miami VA deals with particularly challenged individuals who need our assistance to overcome cognitive impairment. To know that we have helped these veterans overcome functional deficits while advancing science is extremely gratifying.”

“The pioneering work of Dr. Harvey is furthering our mission to provide the highest level of care to the men and women who have bravely served in our nation’s armed forces to protect our freedom and safety,” said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Miller School and CEO of UHealth. “His innovation as a clinician-scientist has transformed the delivery of health care for this important patient group and helped so many others with debilitating mental illness to lead more fulfilling lives.”

Charles B. Nemeroff, M.D., Ph.D., professor and Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, used an anecdote to describe Harvey’s commitment to behavioral sciences and the way in which he has helped revolutionize the standard of care. “He said to me, ‘You know, there are a lot of patients who still hear voices and they’re able to hold jobs. You’re measuring the wrong thing. In your study you’re measuring whether they have symptoms or not. It’s not that important. What’s important is their functional outcome and their ability to be able to work.’ And I thought, wow, this flies in the face of all psychiatric dogma. This guy really is special.”

Among those present to congratulate Harvey were Robert Jackson, M.D., professor of medicine and Associate Chief of Staff for Research at the Miami VA Healthcare System, and Paul Russo, Director of the Miami VA Healthcare System.

Currently, Harvey is engaged in the largest VA study in mental health, involving 9,000 patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Using performance-based assessments of functional capacity, he is comparing veterans with severe mental illness to 20,000 psychiatrically healthy veterans in hopes of identifying the genetics of impaired everyday functioning.

The Barnwell Award was established in 2007 to honor distinguished educator and physician-scientist John Blair Barnwell, M.D., who was the Director of Research and Education at the Veterans Administration (now the Department of Veterans Affairs) in the 1940s. As part of the Barnwell Award, Harvey received a $5,000 cash award and an inscribed plaque commemorating his scientific achievements. He also will receive $50,000 a year for three years to support his research.

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