A sudden interest in medicine after experiencing health complications paved the way for University of Iowa psychiatry Professor and Director of the Iowa Neuroimaging Consortium Nancy Andreasen’s pioneering career. Originally, she had an interest in English, philosophy, and history; she earned a Ph.D. in English literature before deciding to pursue an M.D. in psychiatry at the UI, Andreasen said. She is a prominent neuroscientist and psychiatrist. Throughout her career, she has successfully integrated interests in the arts and sciences. Her Ph.D. is in English literature, with specialization in Renaissance literature. Her first book was “John Donne: Conservative Revolutionary.” After spending five years as an English professor, she changed fields, attended medical school, and began her career as a physician-neuroscientist.
Her research spans multiple topics, including creativity, spirituality, neuroimaging, genomics, and the natural history and neural mechanisms of schizophrenia. Her career has been marked by many “firsts”: the first quantitative Magnetic Resonance (MR) study of schizophrenia; development of the first scales to measure the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia; the first modern empirical study of creativity that examined familial and environmental factors, cognition, and relationship with mental illness; and the first study to combine genomic techniques with neuroimaging techniques. She is a prominent neuroscientist and psychiatrist.
She has also contributed to the area of psychiatric diagnosis by serving on both the DSM III and DSM IV Task Forces. She was responsible for building the foundations for the study of stress disorders by writing the definition of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for DSM III.