2009 Lewis Thomas Prize
About Kay Redfield Jamison
Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D., one of the country's foremost authorities on manic-depressive (bipolar) illness, has been a pioneer in the movement to destigmatize mental illness. Dr. Jamison has made major contributions as a clinical psychologist and an award-winning author, shaping the conversation about mental illness for both the medical community and the general public.
Dr. Jamison's books combine her scientific expertise with compelling personal experiences to shed light on the complex subject of the mind. In her 1993 book, Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament, Dr. Jamison examines the relationship between artistic creativity and mood disorders, providing an empirical and intimate look into the immense highs and dramatic lows that drove some of the world's great artistic geniuses.
Her 1995 memoir, An Unquiet Mind, chronicles her own experience with bipolar disorder, and was cited by several major publications as one of the best books of the year. Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide was a national bestseller and New York Times Notable Book in 1999. She is also the co-author of the standard medical text on manic-depressive illness, which was chosen as the most outstanding book in biomedical sciences by the American Association of Publishers.
Dr. Jamison completed her undergraduate and doctoral studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she was a National Science Foundation Research Fellow and UCLA Graduate Woman of the Year, among other honors. She also studied zoology and neurophysiology at the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland. Formerly the director of the UCLA Affective Disorders Clinic, Dr. Jamison joined the faculty of the department of psychiatry at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1987. She has written extensively in scientific and clinical journals about mood disorders, lithium treatment, suicide, and creativity, and is the recipient of numerous literary and scientific awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship.
About the Lewis Thomas Prize
Throughout history, scientists and writers have sought to communicate with one another, despite barriers of language and process. The Rockefeller University Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science honors the rare individual who bridges both worlds—whose voice and vision can tell us about science's aesthetic and philosophical dimensions, providing not merely new information but cause for reflection, even revelation. The Lewis Thomas Prize was established in 1993 by the trustees of The Rockefeller University and presented to Lewis Thomas, its first recipient, that year.