Merete Nordentoft wins international acclaim – University of Copenhagen

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24 November 2016

Merete Nordentoft wins international acclaim


Professor Merete Nordentoft recently received the prestigious international Richard J. Wyatt Award for her work with early intervention targeted at young people suffering from early-stage psychoses. The award ranks Merete Nordentoft among some of the most recognised researchers in the field.

On 21 October, Merete Nordentoft, professor at the Department of Clinical Medicine and chief psychiatrist at the Mental Health Centre Copenhagen, received a major international research award, the Richard J. Wyatt Award, in recognition of her long-standing efforts to conduct research into and implement methods for early treatment of young people with psychosis. The award has been presented every two years since 2004 and is the most prestigious award in the field.

""Winning this particular award is big. It's an honour and I'm very flattered and proud, especially to have become a part of the group of people who have previously won the award. We're talking about pioneers in this field – people who have truly made a difference and have helped pave the way for major changes in the clinical practice worldwide," 

Merete Nordentoft

In the recommendation for the award, Merete Nordentoft was described as one of the driving forces behind the Danish OPUS programme with outreach teams targeted at young people with early-stage symptoms of schizophrenia. Since then, the programme has inspired many other countries to introduce similar early intervention functions. Merete Nordentoft's is renowned for her visionary ideas and for never forgetting the primary aim: making life better for those suffering from a mental illness.

Role model for the rest of the world
The award was presented at the 10th International Conference of IEPA, which is the international network for the early intervention in mental health. In his speech, the President of IEPA, Professor Masafumi Mizuno from Toho University in Japan, emphasised the huge impact Merete Nordentoft's research has had around the world. 

Danish experience with highly specialised interventions before the first psychotic disorder breaks out has provided a model in the rest of the world. And the results from Denmark, which are largely based on Merete Nordentoft's work, are one of the reasons why Danish teams such as the OP and OPUS teams have become more or less well-known in Europe, the USA, Australia, South America and Asia.

International impact
"It's a huge recognition of the work we've carried out in the Capital Region of Denmark over the years. From the very beginning, when there were not many of us, and we had to paint our offices ourselves and hitchhike to get to the first international meeting on early intervention in the UK in 1997, until today, where the method has become widespread. And because it's an internationally recognised award, it means more than just the honour of receiving it: It has an international impact. It's definitely something that people notice, and something that makes a difference," says Merete Nordentoft.
In addition to a cash amount, the award consists of a watch, which is very appropriate considering that intervening as early as possible is the main focus, and a certificate.

"It has an international impact. It's definitely something that people notice, and something that makes a difference,"

Merete Nordentoft

Facts about Merete Nordentoft
Professor at the Department of Clinical Medicine, Chief Physician, MD at the Mental Health Centre Copenhagen. Has conducted research since 1984, and is one of the driving forces behind the introduction of the OPUS project in 1998, which was the first outreach treatment option in Denmark. Co-author of the Danish action plan for suicide prevention in 1997-98 and later part of the establishment of the Centre for Suicide Prevention. Initiator of iPSYCH, an interdisciplinary research group which has published more than 200 scientific articles since 2012. Merete Nordentoft has previously received a number of awards and commendations for her research, including the Den Gyldne Skalpel award, the Global Excellence in Health award as well as the Kirsten and Freddy Johansen's award for clinical research. In 2013, she had an award named after her, the Nordentoft award, which is presented every year by the Association for Education and Research in Suicide Prevention.

Facts about the Richard J. Wyatt Award
Richard Jed Wyatt (1937-2002) was an American psychiatrist and is currently one of the largest role models for researchers working in the field of schizophrenia. During his career, Wyatt published more than 800 scientific articles. He was one of the initiators of a biological approach to research in schizophrenia, and today, he is recognised for a wide range of ground-breaking studies which have changed the research into and treatment of schizophrenia. At the time of his death, Richard J. Wyatt was North American Vice President of IEPA, and as a recognition of the major importance of his research, IEPA decided to establish an award in his name. The award has previously been presented to Professor Patrick McGorry from Australia and Professor Max Birchwood from the UK, who were the first to work with early intervention.