Beck Gets a Lasker
Penn psychiatrist to be honored today
Aaron T. Beck will receive the prestigious Lasker Award for his pioneering work in cognitive therapy.
By Josh Goldstein
Inquirer Staff Writer
17 September 2006
In the 1960s, University of Pennsylvania psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck began to develop the theories and practice of a new branch of psychoanalysis known as cognitive therapy.
Beck's more than 40 years of pioneering work at Penn is being honored today with the prestigious Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research.
The Lasker awards are given annually for "stunning" achievements in basic and clinical research in medicine. The awards are often likened to Nobel Prizes and come with a $100,000 honorarium.
Cognitive therapy, which treats mental problems including depression, anxiety disorders and phobias, is based on the premise that thoughts, feelings and actions are interwoven. Patients are taught to identify their negative, sometimes irrational patterns of thought and replace them with more realistic, helpful ones.
Beck's development of cognitive therapy "is one of the most important advances - if not the most important advance - in the treatment" of depression and other anxiety disorders in the last 50 years, said Joseph L. Goldstein, a 1985 Nobel laureate for medicine and chairman of the jury of researchers who selected the latest Lasker winners.
"This was really quite an unexpected, but very much appreciated, honor," Beck said.
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