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John Nurnberger

John Nurnberger

IU School of Medicine
May 2007

For renowned psychiatrist John Nurnberger, "all in the family" isn't a television classic; it's a description of a big part of his professional career and a core piece of his theories about medical conditions such as bipolar affective disorder.

Nurnberger is the Joynce and Iver Small Professor of Psychiatry in the IU School of Medicine and the director of the Institute of Psychiatric Research, which this spring is celebrating its 50th anniversary. It's a memorable milestone for the soft-spoken researcher and teacher, since his father - John Nurnberger Sr. - was one of the cornerstone members of the institute throughout its formative years on the IUPUI campus. The institute was one of first in the country dedicated to brain research on mental illness and addiction.

Nurnberger has built an international reputation on his work with psychiatric conditions such as bipolar disorder, exploring its genetic components and tracing family histories to understand how it might pass from one generation to the next. He is the head of a five-year, $16-million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) that involves other IUPUI-based researchers such as Howard Edenberg and Tatiana Foroud, plus investigators from 11 other academic centers across the country.

His talents have earned him recognition from numerous organizations. Nurnberger served in several key posts for the National Institute of Mental Health, was the Milton S. and Harriet H. Parker Lecturer in Psychiatry and Human Genetics at Ohio State, is a past president of the national Psychiatric Research Society, and is the founding editor of the journal Psychiatric Genetics.

Nurnberger also has built a strong reputation on other behaviorally based disorders, such as alcoholism, applying his experience to explore the genetic component of that disease.

The veteran researcher and educator also crosses into other disciplines as well, working as a member of the medical neurobiology department and the department of medical and molecular genetics. When he has a few moments to spare from his work, Nurnberger finds time to indulge his enjoyment of tennis.

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