Dr. Philip Harvey Receives Lieber Prize for Outstanding Schizophrenia Research 

The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation has awarded Philip Harvey, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, the Lieber Prize for his outstanding achievements in schizophrenia research — the highest honor awarded in the field.

Headshot of Dr. Philip Harvey
Philip Harvey, Ph.D.

“This achievement underscores Dr. Harvey’s lifelong commitment to advancing our understanding of this complex disease,” said Henri R. Ford, M.D., M.H.A., dean and chief academic officer of the Miller School. “His remarkable catalog of discoveries has profoundly influenced the field and ultimately provides a pathway to improved therapies for mental disorders.”

Previous winners of the award, which is named in recognition of Stephen and Constance Lieber, constitute a roster of luminary researchers including several Nobel Prize winners. As a recipient of the Lieber Prize, Dr. Harvey will receive $50,000 and a welcome reception in New York City. He will also present his work at the International Mental Health Research Symposium in October, along with winners of awards in mood disorders, neuroscience and child psychiatry.

“Receiving this award as a psychologist is a huge honor, and being acknowledged by the greater community is a testimony to the value of the research and discoveries made by our large group of collaborators at the Miller School, the VA and those around the country,” Dr. Harvey said. “I appreciate joining this cohort of elite winners and sharing my work.” 

Advancing Schizophrenia Research  

Dr. Harvey has studied schizophrenia for over 30 years, focusing on cognition and everyday functioning in severe mental illness. Other aspects of his research include treatment in cognitive remediation and pharmacological domains, and multiple recent genomic studies of cognition, disability and suicide in the VA populations. He conducted the first study of working memory in schizophrenia and the first study of the genomics of disability in serious mental illness.

His work has led to more than 1,100 published papers and abstracts, 70 authored book chapters and close to $60 million in total funding, including being awarded the largest mental health research grant by the U.S. Department of Veterans affairs.

Some examples of the brief cognition assessment tests implemented by Dr. Harvey and his Miller School team.

The Lieber Prize is the latest addition to Dr. Harvey’s extensive list of awards, which include the Schizophrenia International Research Society’s inaugural Outstanding Clinical and Community Research Award; the John B. Barnwell Award, the VA’s highest honor for outstanding achievement in clinical research that advances the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases and disorders in the veteran population; and the American College of Psychiatrists’ Stanley Dean Research Award.

In 2010, Dr. Harvey joined the Miller School to continue his research efforts while collaborating with young researchers. Since then, he has published over 400 peer-reviewed papers with over 59,000 citations, and received 22 research grants.

“Dr. Harvey is a national treasure not only in the department but in the medical campus and University,” said Barbara J. Coffey, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. “The field of cognitive and social neuroscience in schizophrenia will be forever beholden to him for his seminal work.”  

Technological Implementations in Schizophrenia Treatment  

Dr. Harvey has implemented various technologies in the assessment of schizophrenia. Patients in his studies receive a personal touch to begin their mobile ecological momentary assessments, where they are asked pertinent questions about their location, comfort level, mood and health. Dr. Harvey and his team receive the data built into the assessment app and have already noticed an increase in more accurate readings due to these changes.

Some of the technological simulations Dr. Harvey’s patients use include learning how to use an ATM and refill prescriptions.

“We are now doing a broad-spectrum approach to schizophrenia as the evolution of our interest started with cognition, then its relation to disabilities and its many variants,” Dr. Harvey said. “Since people with schizophrenia have difficulties reporting their functioning states, we have developed technologies that move away from the patient in the lab to them using smart devices to understand what is going on in their natural environments.”  

Further use of technology involves computerized neuropsychological tests consisting of challenging mental puzzles. More robust implementations feature Dr. Harvey’s Brain and Health Fitness Program, which uses software he co-designed for patients to learn technology and improve their cognition though virtual reality simulations of daily tasks.

“We have noticed that these interventions have a considerably greater potential for disability reduction,” Dr. Harvey said. “Our studies are noted nationally because we are targeting critical challenges in mental disorders with our approaches and striving to give patients a greater sense of independence.” 

While the Lieber Prize is the highest honor in the field, it doesn’t mark the end of Dr. Harvey’s research efforts. He has already started looking at how technology can be used for assessments and training interventions in people with conditions besides schizophrenia, such as depression and bipolar disorder.

Tags: Brain Health and Fitness Program, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Dr. Philip D. Harvey, Schizophrenia