Back to Blog List

Honoring Women’s Contributions to Psychiatry Research


All across the field of psychiatry, women make an impact every day in furthering our understanding of the brain and how to treat mental health and substance use disorders. In recognition of Women’s History Month, APA is highlighting six women whose research contributions have meant better outcomes for people with mental illness.

Nancy Andreasen, M.D., Ph.D., Schizophrenia    

Dr. Nancy Andreasen is known for pioneering the use of magnetic resonance imaging to study mental illness. She has also undertaken substantial research using brain imaging to examine the relationship between creativity and mental illness. In 2000 President Clinton awarded her the National Medal of Science, America's highest award for scientific achievement. She is currently director of the Iowa Neuroimaging Consortium and holds the Andrew H. Woods Chair of Psychiatry at the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. Learn more about Dr. Andreasen.

Tami Benton, M.D., Adolescent Mood Disorders and Suicide Prevention                  

Dr. Tami Benton's is known for her research on depression and suicide prevention in children and adolescents, health services research and eating disorders. She has dedicated much of her career to working with ethnically diverse children and families from underserved urban areas. She is psychiatrist-in-chief, executive director and chair of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She is also associate professor of psychiatry at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the Frederick Allen Professor of Psychiatry at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Learn more about Dr. Benton.

Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, M.D., Mental Health in the Military                      

Dr. Elspeth Ritchie is a forensic psychiatrist who has published more than 200 academic papers on how people can recover from disaster, and military and veteran’s issues, among other topics. She approaches her research and work with a public health perspective. She retired from the Army in 2010 after serving in the many numerous leadership positions within Army Medicine, to including Psychiatry Consultant to the Army Surgeon General. She is now chief of psychiatry at Medstar Washington Hospital Center and professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University, George Washington University School of Medicine, and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Learn more about Dr. Ritchie.

Lois Choi-Kain, M.D., M.Ed., Borderline Personality Disorder                     

Dr. Lois Choi-Kain's research is aimed at making treatment for borderline personality disorder (BDP) more accessible and more effective, allowing for earlier intervention and functional recovery. She developed the Gunderson Residence in 2019, a specialized residential program for adult women with severe personality disorders which integrates multiple evidence-based treatments. In 2013, she founded the BPD Training Institute, focusing on evidence-based care for severe personality disorders (since renamed the Gunderson Personality Disorders Institute). Dr. Choi-Kain is currently director of that institute, and she is also assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Learn more about Dr. Choi-Kain.

Nora Volkow, M.D., Substance Use Disorders                      

 Dr. Nora Volkow’s research has been instrumental in demonstrating that drug addiction is a brain disease. She pioneered the use of brain imaging to investigate the toxic and addictive effects of drugs. She has also focused on the neurochemical mechanisms responsible for variability in individual response to drugs and the neurobiology of obesity, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and aging.  She has received many awards and recognitions, including the Carnegie Prize in Mind and Brain Sciences from Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Volkow is the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health. Learn more about Dr. Volkow.

Katherine Wisner, M.D., Reproductive Mental Health             

The primary focus of Dr. Katherine Wisner's research has been the psychiatric treatment of women of childbearing age. She has particularly focused on pregnancy and the postpartum period, including the impact of medication for depression and bipolar disorder during pregnancy. She serves on the Editorial Boards of the American Journal of Psychiatry and the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. She is director of the Asher Center for the Study and Treatment of Depressive Disorders at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She is also Norman and Helen Asher Professor and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University. Learn more about Dr. Wisner.

Carolyn Rodriguez, M.D., Ph.D., Anxiety Disorders              

Dr. Caroline Rodriguez leads studies investigating the brain basis of severe mental disorders. Her landmark clinical trials pioneer rapid-acting treatments for illnesses including obsessive-compulsive disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder. She is currently engaged in studies of novel drugs, non-invasive brain stimulation, and psychotherapy in OCD. Dr. Rodriguez also serves as deputy editor of the American Journal of Psychiatry. Dr. Rodriguez is associate dean for Academic Affairs at Stanford University School of Medicine, associate chair for inclusion and diversity in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, and a Consultation-Liaison Psychiatrist at the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs. Learn more about Dr. Rodriguez.

Special thanks to the APA Caucus of Women Psychiatrists and the APA Committee on Women’s Mental Health for the suggestions of these leaders!


AnxietyPatients and FamiliesPersonality DisordersSchizophreniaAddictionPTSD


Comments (0)