Reynolds honored for breakthroughs in depression prevention, treatment

Charles F. Reynolds, III, MDCharles F. Reynolds, III, MD, UPMC Endowed Professor in Geriatric Psychiatry, has been awarded the 2016 Pardes Humanitarian Prize in Mental Health by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (formerly NARSAD).  Reynolds has been honored for his work related to late-life depression. An award also was given to Vikram Patel, PhD, FMedSci, the co-founder of Sangath, a nongovernmental organization in Goa, India, for advancing mental health care in the developing world

"Dr. Reynolds is a pioneer in geriatric psychiatry whose mission is to help the elderly lead full and productive lives in their later years," said Herbert Pardes, MD, an advocate for the mentally ill and the award’s first recipient in 2014.  Pardes, a psychiatrist, is president of the foundation’s Scientific Council and executive vice chair of the Board of Trustees at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

“It is a privilege and an honor to be a recipient of the Pardes Humanitarian Prize," Reynolds said. "In our youth-focused culture, the elderly and their struggles with mental illness are often overlooked and neglected. Late-life depression is a global health priority that has immense impact on older individuals and their families. It is my sincere hope that as a society we can work to restore the joy of living to older adults affected by mental illness.”

A foundation news release noted that Reynolds and his colleagues have made groundbreaking contributions to the prevention and treatment of depression in older adults. Depression has been identified by the World Health Organization as a leading cause of disability worldwide and a major contributor to the global burden of disease across the life cycle.  Reynolds helped to define depression prevention in older adults as a global health priority that is now recognized as a feasible public health goal. He and his colleagues have also demonstrated that depression treatment reduces both suicidal risk and cancer-related mortality risk in elderly medical patients. His work has informed long-term treatment strategies to prevent recurrence and to delay dementia in depression with mild cognitive impairment.

Reynolds leads an NIMH study with the Goa Medical College/India and with Sangath to develop and test a scalable model of depression prevention. Building upon Patel's contribution, this work uses lay health counselors for early intervention in mildly symptomatic older adults, thereby optimizing scarce mental health resources to prevent depression onset. The NIMH-sponsored Center for Late-Life Mood Disorders at Pitt, which Reynolds directs, has mentored 25 research-career development (NIH K grant) awardees since 1995.

Reynolds co-founded the Global Consortium on Depression Prevention, edits the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, and has served as president of the American College of Psychiatrists, the International College for Geriatric Psychoneuropharmacology, the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. He has received the APA Weinberg Award for lifetime contributions in geriatric psychiatry, the American College of Psychiatrists’ research award in geriatrics, the International Psychogeriatric Association lifetime service award, and the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.