Laura Jean Bierut, MD
Laura J. Bierut, MD ’87, HS ’91, is internationally recognized for her research on the genetics of psychiatric illness. She is currently an associate professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine.
Bierut’s research focuses on understanding the environmental and genetic factors involved in the development of psychiatric illnesses. She has made important contributions in understanding the relationships among addictive disorders such as smoking, alcohol, cocaine and marijuana dependence. She leads several multi-center studies supported by the National Institutes of Health, including studies of nicotine dependence, alcohol dependence, and the first large-scale genome-wide association study of a psychiatric disorder. Her work has made several important contributions to the understanding of the genetic basis of addictions, including why some smokers become nicotine dependent and some do not.
Bierut also plays a vital role in teaching at Washington University. She led the reorganization of the pre-clinical curriculum in psychiatry and currently serves as coursemaster. She has received a Distinguished Service Teaching Award from Washington University medical students and a national teaching award from the American Psychiatric Association. She also serves the school as an active member of several administrative groups involved in admissions, curriculum, and academic evaluation of students.
Bierut received her undergraduate degree from Harvard Radcliffe College in 1982 and her medical degree from Washington University in 1987. After her residency in psychiatry at Barnes Hospital, Bierut did genetic research at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and was a faculty member at the University of Washington in Seattle. In 1994, she returned to Washington University as an instructor in psychiatry and completed her post- doctoral training in psychiatric genetics. She became an assistant professor in 1996 after receiving a career development award from the National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, then was promoted to associate professor in 2002.
The Washington University Medical Center Alumni Association is pleased to present Dr. Bierut with its Alumni/Faculty Award.