Lifetime of Achievement

Dr. Kenneth Kendler’s work in genetics and behavior earns him IOL’s Burlingame award

Kenneth S. Kendler, MD, Banks Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Professor of Human Genetics at the Medical College of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va., was the 2018 recipient of the Charles Burlingame, MD, Award — an annual national honor in recognition of outstanding leadership and lifetime achievement in psychiatric research and education.

Over a distinguished career, Dr. Kendler has been engaged in studies of the genetics of psychiatric and substance use disorders, including schizophrenia, major depression, alcoholism, personality disorders and drug abuse and dependence. He has utilized methods ranging from family studies, to large-sample population-based twin and adoption studies to molecular genetic studies including linkage, association, GWAS and whole genome sequence aimed at identifying specific genes that influence the vulnerability to schizophrenia, alcoholism, depression, personality disorders and nicotine dependence. Data collection for these studies has been completed in Virginia, Ireland, England, China, Norway, Finland and Sweden.

He has published more than 1,000 articles, has received a number of national and international awards for his work, is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, and is Editor of Psychological Medicine among many other achievements. He has been actively involved in DSM-III-R, DSM-IV and DSM-5 where he chaired the Scientific Review Committee and currently is Vice-Chair of the APA DSM Steering Committee. Since 1996, he has served as Director of the Virginia Institute of Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics. His scientific work has been cited over 129,000 times.

The C. Charles Burlingame, MD, Award and its presentation have been made possible by gifts from the Burlingame family.

When C. Charles Burlingame, MD, came to The Hartford Retreat (now the Institute of Living) in 1931 as superintendent, he was taking on what he described as a “stunning challenge.” The stock market crash of 1929 and the death of hospital superintendent Whitefield Thompson, MD, in 1930 had taken their toll on the spirit of The Retreat.

Hank Schwartz, MD, presents Kenneth Kendler, MD, a plaque at the Institute of Living’s 2018 C. Charles Burlingame Award reception at the Hartford Downtown Marriott.

Dr. Burlingame was well suited for the task. He had been director of the medical and surgical departments of the American Red Cross and the Bureau of Hospitals during World War I.

During his tenure, the medical and nursing staffs were increased and additional personnel were brought in to carry out ambitious programs of patient education. At the same time, an aggressive program was begun to improve the hospital facilities. Within six years, Dr. Burlingame had created a model community where patients could receive the best in psychiatric treatment, while relearning the skills of daily living.

Although 65 years have passed since Dr. Burlingame’s death, his mark is clearly visible on the institution to which he devoted the last 19 years of his life. Today, the Institute of Living serves as the behavioral health division of Hartford Hospital and the anchor facility of Hartford Healthcare’s Behavioral Health Network. Each year, The Institute of Living acknowledges its debt to his vision and dedication with the C. Charles Burlingame, MD, Award.