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Professor receives achievement award

In mid-November, Dean Kilpatrick, Ph.D., received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies.

With an impressive body of work supporting his 30-plus-year career, Kilpatrick, director of the MUSC National Crime Victims Center and Distinguished University Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, some would think that this achievement marks a slow-down, or might signal a decrease in work productivity since so much has already been accomplished. Instead, the award has only reaffirmed to Kilpatrick how much he has left to do.
“It is wonderful to receive validation from your peers, the people that you respect,” he said. “And it highlights the fact that we’ve been doing work here that is valued by others. I wish we didn’t have to do this work, but as long as there is war, crime, disasters and terrorism, there is much we need to learn to help treat those who must overcome these events.”
Kilpatrick’s work spans a variety of topics, most notably post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans and rape victims and the appropriate psychological treatments. Currently, he and his colleagues are looking at patients’ genotypes who were all involved in a natural disaster event, and whether any predispositions to PTSD based on that data is present. Specifically, they are trying to discover if molecular genetics modify responses to stressful experiences and thus increase the likelihood of PTSD in some people. His division also developed a popular trauma-focused online continuing education program for mental health providers throughout the world that has been accessed by more than 30,000 participants to date.
“This award is a wonderful and well-deserved personal honor for Dean, who also brings great distinction to the NCVC, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and MUSC,” said Thomas W. Uhde, M.D., Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences chair and Institute of Psychiatry director. “Given the current ‘troubles’ in the world and the impact of trauma on our military warriors, there is no collection of work more important than his research in advancing the recognition and treatment of acute stress and post-traumatic stress disorders.”
Kilpatrick has been heavily involved in the crime victims’ rights movement, having served as a founding member of South Carolina’s first rape crisis center in 1974 and the South Carolina Victim Assistance Network in 1984. He was appointed by Gov. Richard Riley in 1984 to the Crime Victims Advisory Board and reappointed by Gov. Carroll Campbell to a second term in 1991. Kilpatrick and his colleagues have received several grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Justice, and the National Institute of Drug Abuse supporting their research on the scope of violent crime and its psychological impact on victims. His work has been published in scientific and professional journals, and he has made presentations to numerous state, national, and international groups, and he credits much of his success to MUSC. “I’m truly thankful to MUSC for making it all possible,” he said. “When I got started this was all so far from the mainstream. The great thing about the Medical University is that it has always had and continues to have visionary leaders who make it possible for young faculty to pursue ideas. I’m truly grateful for all that MUSC has provided me and my colleagues.”
In 1985 Kilpatrick was given the National Organization of Victim Assistance Stephen Schafer Award for Outstanding Contributions to Victims Research. In 1990, President George Bush presented Kilpatrick with the U.S. Justice Department Award for Outstanding Contributions on Behalf of Victims of Crime. He has testified about crime victim and veteran issues at hearings held by the South Carolina General Assembly, the United States House of Representatives, and the United States Senate.
“This award is affirmation of what many of us at MUSC already know… that Dean’s unit has made significant contributions to academia, and to our society,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost John Raymond, M.D. “This is a richly deserved recognition of his leadership and vision, and of the hard work of his faculty, staff and other colleagues.”

Friday, Dec. 19, 2008

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