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PTSD pioneer Dr. Terence M. Keane receives 2015 Barnwell Award

January 19, 2016

Dr. Terence Keane (center) received the Barnwell Award on Jan. 15, 2016, from VA Secretary Bob McDonald and Dr. Terri Gleason, acting director of the VA Clinical Science Research and Development Service. (Photo by James Lally)

Dr. Terence Keane (center) received the Barnwell Award on Jan. 15, 2016, from VA Secretary Bob McDonald and Dr. Terri Gleason, acting director of the VA Clinical Science Research and Development Service. (Photo by James Lally)

Terence M. Keane, Ph.D., received the 2015 John Blair Barnwell Award from VA Clinical Science Research and Development for his work in the area of traumatic stress.

Keane directs the Behavioral Science Division of the National Center for PTSD at the VA Boston Healthcare System. He is also a professor of psychiatry and psychology and assistant dean for research at Boston University School of Medicine.

Keane helped lay the foundation for the understanding of PTSD as a serious mental health problem that can stem from both military and civilian traumas. He led efforts to create and validate measures of exposure to traumatic experience and PTSD symptoms. Some of those measures remain the gold standard in the field.

As co-chair of a National Institute of Mental Health group, Keane was instrumental in the establishment of national standards for the assessment and diagnosis of PTSD. He also helped build the evidence that PTSD could be treated successfully with exposure therapy, which is now used widely in VA.

"[His] keen clinical skills identified commonalities in returning Veterans even before posttraumatic stress disorder was a diagnosis."

Recently, Keane has been a principal investigator for the "Veterans After Discharge Longitudinal Registry," also known as Project Valor. The study is being conducted by the VA Boston Healthcare System and New England Research Institutes with funding from the Department of Defense. The aim is to develop a national registry of Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom Veterans seen at VA facilities. So far, the project team has published findings on the role of social support in relation to suicide risk, sleep quality among Veterans, and other topics.

'A tireless clinician, researcher, teacher...'

Among other past honors, Keane won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. He also received a Presidential Citation in 2014 from the American Psychological Association. From that citation:

"A tireless clinician, researcher, teacher, mentor, advocate, bureaucrat, psychometrician, spokesperson, administrator, board member and leader, [Keane] is a gentleman and a scholar with a bottomless pit of energy, passion and compassion. [His] keen clinical skills identified commonalities in returning veterans even before posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was a diagnosis and tried to understand, define and help them, and he hasn't given up yet. His corpus of work paved the foundation for today's standard way of conceptualizing, assessing and treating PTSD. He serves as the 'go-to' expert to the governments and decision makers of various countries, world-renowned institutions and agencies, and all branches of the United States military and its leaders.

"In 1989, he became director, Behavioral Sciences Division [of the National Center for PTSD]... and over the next 20 years [was] instrumental in its ascension as one of the world's leading research centers on all aspects of military trauma. ... Keane is an extraordinary person who has shaped an entire field of psychological inquiry. His manifold contributions have exerted a life-changing impact on thousands of veterans and their families, as well as on people of all socioeconomic stripes around the world who have endured the devastating repercussions of trauma."

VA will publish an announcement of Keane's award in a prestigious scientific journal. He will receive $50,000 per year for three years in research support, a cash award of $5,000, and an inscribed plaque commemorating his scientific achievements. The VA Boston Healthcare System also will receive a plaque honoring him.

The Barnwell Award is the highest honor given by VA Clinical Science Research and Development. The award recognizes senior VA investigators who have achieved international acclaim for clinical research accomplishments in areas of prime importance to VA's research mission, and who have also shown great commitment to patients.

VA established the award in 2007 to honor educator and physician-scientist John Blair Barnwell, M.D., who was the director of research and education for the Veterans Administration (now the Department of Veterans Affairs) in the 1940s. Barnwell's contributions included the formation of the Veterans Administration-Army-Navy Cooperative Studies in the Chemotherapy of Tuberculosis Program, which pioneered the model of the multisite clinical trial.

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