Pardes Humanitarian Prizewinner: Herbert Pardes, M.D.

2014 Pardes Humanitarian Prizewinner in Mental Health


From his earliest work as a medical student and intern, Dr. Herbert Pardes saw the need to help people overcome the critical challenges of daily living and basic function in the realm of mental health. He served to care for many in hospital environments, and then he began to teach others how to do the same as a professor of medicine while caring for patients as a psychiatrist.

His achievements in conferring the benefits on others led to his appointment as Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), where he served from 1978 to 1984. It is widely recognized that he transformed the Institute, gave it new research intensity and deepened its concern and activity with patient treatment. Dr. Pardes encouraged the support of outstanding researchers in many segments of psychiatry and went beyond the traditional role in guiding and stimulating the broadening of public interest in the effort to overcome mental illness. Dr. Pardes also served as U.S. Assistant Surgeon General during the Reagan and Carter administrations and has been a continuing champion of federal support of psychiatric research and medical research generally.

When the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) was formed, Dr. Pardes was at the first meeting as the lead speaker to guide volunteers in their goal to help patients, family members and overcome stigma.

When the late distinguished publisher of The Washington Post, Katherine Graham, was approached by two gentlemen from Louisville, Kentucky, who wanted to build their schizophrenia research charity, she immediately went to Dr. Pardes. He saw the opportunity to create a new vehicle which would greatly broaden the research, the research community and public support. Thus, he led the foundation of the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression – NARSAD – now the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. He started by using his extraordinary knowledge of the leaders in research in these areas of schizophrenia and depression by selecting a 24-member council of scientists to select young researchers to be funded by the new organization. He guided these distinguished scientists in the task for which they volunteered and has continued to do so to this day as the Scientific Council has grown to 165 members. Their effort has unquestionably transformed the field with the more than 5,000 NARSAD Research grants awarded in the United States and thirty-three other countries.

Beyond building NARSAD/the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, Dr. Pardes has realized further extraordinary achievements in “conferring the greatest benefit on mankind.” When he left his role at the NIMH, he joined the faculty of Columbia University Medical School and the New York State Psychiatric Institute to head psychiatric research education. Not content to limit his message within these great organizations, he opened new channels of public communication and participation. Significantly, he convened the Schizophrenia Research Colloquium for the general public, aimed at giving patients and family members insight into the disorders, the issues of caring and the research. These annual research forums have continued as an important contribution of Columbia for 30 years.

As he rose in the responsibilities at Columbia University, becoming Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons—where he raised the U.S. News & World Report ranking of P&S to number five in the country—and the Vice President for Health Research, Dr. Pardes continued to broaden the base of those receiving his messages of new knowledge and goals of better treatments and cures. In the course of this active program, he also served as President of the American Psychiatric Association and has now for over two decades maintained a regular responsibility for giving the association’s members an annual update on research in the field.

His distinguished career has been characterized by unswerving dedication to the best in medical and scientific advancement, combined with remarkable administrative skills. During his years as President of the newly merged NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital System (2000-2011), where he continues to serve as Executive Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees, he instituted countless innovations and helped transform the hospital into the largest not-for-profit and one of the top ranked hospitals in the nation.

He devoted himself to medical education as Chairman of the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA), the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the New York Association of Medical Schools.

He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was awarded the U.S. Army Commendation Medal and the Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health from the Institute of Medicine.

The power of his presence, insight and dedication has truly “conferred the greatest benefit of mankind.”

It is with this inspiration that we are inaugurating the Pardes Humanitarian Prize. With his career achievements as a model, the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation intends to honor others in the future who have had the most beneficial achievements in the fields of mental health of mankind.

Read the Press Release Announcement of the Inaugural Pardes Humanitarian Prize.