Posted on 03/12/2010
Professor Moffitt and Professor Caspi
The Jacobs Foundation, one of the largest foundations in Europe in the field of youth development, announced Professors Terrie Moffitt and Avshalom Caspi from the Institute of Psychiatry (IoP) at King’s as the recipients of the second annual Klaus J. Jacobs Research Prize.
They were recognised for their trailblazing discoveries of how specific genes, along with environmental factors, are predictors of adult success or depression, anti-social behaviour, and physical disease. The Prize carries an award of one million Swiss franks (£650,000) and is presented in recognition of outstanding scientific accomplishments which represent groundbreaking contributions to the improvement of the lives of children. An international, cross-disciplinary jury composed of scientists from leading research institutions around the world selected Professors Moffitt and Caspi as the Prize beneficiaries. The Prize is intended to provide financial support for continuing research on psychological and neuroscientific development. The award ceremony takes place today on the birthday of Klaus J. Jacobs at the University of Zurich.
Extraordinary scientific contributions
Dr. Bernd Ebersold, CEO of the Jacobs Foundation, said: 'We are extremely proud to award the second annual Klaus J. Jacobs Research Prize to Professors Terrie Moffitt and Avshalom Caspi. As leaders in the fields of developmental psychology and neuroscience, Professor Moffitt and Professor Caspi exemplify the Foundation’s commitment to research, application, and active communication to improve the lives of young people. It is our hope that this Prize will enable Professors Moffitt and Caspi to expand upon their extraordinary scientific contributions and continue to support the development of children and well-being of adults around the world.'
Caspi and Moffitt, who are married, have a distinguished record of scientific accomplishments contributing to an understanding of human development and mental health.
Moffitt and Caspi’s collaborative work over two decades demonstrates their wide-ranging contributions to the understanding of genetic, situational, and experiential influences on youth development and their combined influence on adult behaviour and health. Beyond the purely scientific value of their research, their work has wider implications for educational and social policy that promotes child and youth development that fosters productive lives as adults. Particularly, Moffitt and Caspi’s research points to a complex interaction between genes and the environment and the way, together, they predict the outcomes of childhood adversity in adults.
Their research suggests that a “bad” genotype is not a sentence for a lifelong struggle – good parenting can overcome it. Likewise, a “bad” environment is not a sentence either, because you must also have “bad” genes. And even the combination of “bad” environment and “bad” genes does not condemn children to a future of crime or depression – it merely tips the scales a little in that direction.
Professor Moffitt is Professor of Social Behaviour & Development at the IoP and Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. She also works, with Professor Caspi, at the Dunedin School of Medicine, in New Zealand, where she is associate director of the Dunedin Longitudinal Study, which follows 1,000 people born in 1972 in New Zealand. She is a licensed clinical psychologist who completed her clinical training at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute.
Professor Caspi is Professor of Personality Development at the IoP and Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. Caspi grew up in Israel and received his Ph.D. at Cornell University. His research spans the fields of psychology, epidemiology, and genetics.
Established in 1988, the Jacobs Foundation funds interdisciplinary research
and pilot projects in the area of youth development in the Americas, Europe, Africa and Southern Asia. Through the integration of research, application and intervention, as well as dialogue and network building, the Foundation seeks to develop the potential of young people and to help them become socially responsible and productive members of society.
View a video of Professors Terrie Moffitt and Avshalom Caspi.
Read more about their work.
Notes to editors
King's College London
King's College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (2010 QS international world rankings), The Sunday Times 'University of the Year 2010/11' and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King's has nearly 23,000 students (of whom more than 8,600 are graduate students) from nearly 140 countries, and some 5,500 employees. King's is in the second phase of a £1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate.
King's has an outstanding reputation for providing world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise for British universities, 23 departments were ranked in the top quartile of British universities; over half of our academic staff work in departments that are in the top 10 per cent in the UK in their field and can thus be classed as world leading. The College is in the top seven UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of nearly £450 million.
King's has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, the sciences (including a wide range of health areas such as psychiatry, medicine, nursing and dentistry) and social sciences including international affairs. It has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA and research that led to the development of radio, television, mobile phones and radar. It is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe; no university has more Medical Research Council Centres.
King's College London and Guy's and St Thomas', King's College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts are part of King's Health Partners. King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering global collaboration between one of the world's leading research-led universities and three of London's most successful NHS Foundation Trusts, including leading teaching hospitals and comprehensive mental health services. For more information, visit: www.kingshealthpartners.org