Joan L. Luby, MD, the Samuel and Mae S. Ludwig Professor of Psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has received the Ruane Prize for Child & Adolescent Psychiatry from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. The prize honors important advances in the understanding and treatment of early-onset brain and behavior disorders.
A child psychiatrist, Luby is the founder and director of the university’s Early Emotional Development Program in the Department of Psychiatry. Her landmark studies have demonstrated that even preschoolers can be clinically depressed and that depression in the very young could indicate that such children may have difficulty in school, during adolescence and throughout life. Her team also has developed and tested an intervention to treat preschool depression in hopes of avoiding continuing or worsening problems later.
Her studies also have identified behavioral and biological markers of risk for depression and demonstrated that stress in a child’s environment is linked to altered brain development. However, her team also has found that nurturing from parents can counteract some of those negative effects.