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Akira Sawa

Sawa.AkiraAKIRA SAWA, MD, PhD is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Director of the Johns Hopkins Schizophrenia Center. He also has joint appointments in the Department of Mental Health in the School of Public Health as well as in the Department of Neuroscience, the Institute of Human Genetics, and the Graduate Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

After completing his residency in psychiatry and clinical fellowship at the University of Tokyo Hospital in Japan, Dr. Sawa joined Johns Hopkins University as a postdoctoral fellow under Dr. Solomon Snyder in 1996. He joined the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in 2001.

Building on his background in both clinical psychiatry and basic neuroscience, Dr. Sawa was appointed Director of the Schizophrenia Center in 2011. The aim of the Center is to integrate clinical, research, and educational activities on schizophrenia and psychotic disorders by developing multi-school and multi-departmental collaborations. Dr. Sawa leads cross-disciplinary projects that include psychiatrists, psychologists, epidemiologists, geneticists, brain imaging specialists, neuroscientists, and drug discovery experts who are working together to understand the biological underpinnings of psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. They strive to find new interventions, improved treatment therapeutics and, ultimately, prevention. One of these projects is currently funded by a prestigious Silvio A. Conte Center grant from the National Institute of Health for which Dr. Sawa serves as the Principal Investigator and Director.

Dr. Sawa has been recognized internationally throughout his career as an outstanding researcher and leader in the field of brain sciences. Awards include the Ueno Award for outstanding promise in science in 2002. A discovery related to schizophrenia by his research team was named among the top five greatest discoveries in 2005 by Science magazine and among the top innovations of 2007 in medicine by Time magazine. Dr. Sawa was also named the Staglin Music Festival “Rising Star” in 2007. That same year the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) presented the Efron Award to Dr. Sawa for his outstanding basic/translational research contributions to neuropsychopharmacology. In 2008, he earned an honorable mention for The Freedman Award which is presented to NARSAD Young Investigators (National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression) who have distinguished themselves through outstanding basic science research. In 2010, Dr. Sawa received the Tsukahara Memorial Award from Riken, a large research institution in Japan for original and innovative basic research – the first time it was received by a psychiatrist. The Brain and Behavior Foundation (formerly NARSAD) presented Dr. Sawa with the Distinguished Investigator Award in 2011. This year he was honored by the Schizophrenia International Research Society for Outstanding Basic Research.