Laura Jean Bierut, MD
Laura Jean Bierut, MD, professor of psychiatry, is being recognized for her outstanding professional accomplishments and dedication to clinical and research mentorship.
Bierut is a national leader in the study of the genetics of addiction. Her research focuses on the familial clustering of psychiatric illnesses and the understanding of the environmental and genetic factors involved in their development. She has made important contributions in understanding the relationships among addictive disorders such as tobacco and alcohol use, cocaine and marijuana dependence. She is the national principal investigator and co-principal investigator of major multicenter studies of nicotine dependence and alcohol dependence, respectively. She also has leadership roles in a national consortium dedicated to studying genetics of substance abuse and a national study providing the first-ever genome-wide association study of a psychiatric disorder.
An influential teacher, she led a major reorganization of the psychiatry pre-clinical curriculum in the late 1990s and has taught the medical student course Diseases of the Nervous System: Psychiatry since that time. She also is an active mentor to residents and junior faculty, who credit her with imparting an understanding of how to be professionally productive while maintaining high scientific integrity, and achieving work-family balance. Described as a team builder, Bierut actively includes mentees and junior faculty in research collaborations.
Bierut earned her bachelor’s degree from Harvard in 1982 and her medical degree from Washington University in 1987. After a psychiatry residency at Washington University, she spent two years as a postdoctoral research fellow at the International Brain Organization Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. She returned to St. Louis to join the Washington University faculty in 1994 and became a professor in 2007. She has been honored with the Sidney I. Schwab Prize in Psychiatry and the International Brain Research Organization Award and has been listed in Best Doctors in America since 2009.