The American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) has named James F. Leckman, MD, PhD, Neison Harris Professor of Child Psychiatry and professor of psychiatry, psychology, and pediatrics, as the recipient of its 2019 Julius Axelrod Mentorship Award.
Leckman initiated both the Donald J. Cohen Medical Student Fellowship Program and the Albert J. Solnit Integrated Training Program at the Yale Child Study Center. The Cohen Fellowship Program seeks to engage promising medical students to develop their interest in child psychiatry. This program is now supported by the Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation in more 15 medical schools across the United States. Since the program’s inception, more than 700 students have participated. The Solnit Integrated Program provides its trainees with the opportunity to complete an internship in pediatrics before pursuing integrated clinical training in both child and adult psychiatry as well as providing the trainees with elective time to develop their research skills. This year, more than 340 applicants have applied for the two positions that are open annually. Since 2004, 30 outstanding trainees have been selected, and many of them have successfully completed advanced degrees (PhD, MPH, MA) during the six-year program. Many have gone on to faculty positions across the country and several are now members of the ACNP .
With the help of his mentors and mentees, Leckman has had a longstanding interest in Tourette syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). His research on these disorders is multifaceted, from phenomenology and natural history, to neurobiology to genetics, to risk factor research and treatment studies. In pursuing his interests, he has mentored more than two dozen postdoctoral trainees from across the globe.
Over the past few decades he has also been a strong advocate for junior faculty for whom he has facilitated collaborative opportunities internationally to advance their clinical skills and their pursuit of innovative translational research. ANCP's announcement of the award says that "Leckman’s profound influence, through his intellectual vibrancy, his intellectual vibrancy, and most importantly his positive regard for the trainees and their future potential, has given encouragement to countless mentees during critical periods of their training and learning has helped shaped their lives and careers including the further pursuit of scientific investigation in the field of neuropsychopharmacology and beyond."
Leckman has served as a formal and informal mentor in programs through the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), and the ACNP. He has been recognized with the AACAP Outstanding Mentor Award five times, and he received the Research Mentor award in 2009 from the APA and American Association of Chairs of Departments of Psychiatry (AACDP). He has also been the primary mentor for several NIH K awards over the years dating back to 2002.
When Leckman learned that he had received the award, he reflected on the importance of mentorship from “generation to generation” and noted how much he continues to learn from his mentees.
The Axelrod Mentorship Award is awarded to an ACNP member who has made an outstanding contribution to neuropsychopharmacology by mentoring and developing young scientists into leaders in the field.