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Irving Gottesman

American professor of psychology

Died when: 85 years 183 days (1026 months)
Star Sign: Capricorn

Irving Isadore Gottesman (December 29, 1930 – June 29, 2016) was an American professor of psychology who devoted most of his career to the study of the genetics of schizophrenia.

He wrote 17 books and more than 290 other publications, mostly on schizophrenia and behavioral genetics, and created the first academic program on behavioral genetics in the United States.

He won awards such as the Hofheimer Prize for Research, the highest award from the American Psychiatric Association for psychiatric research.

Lastly, Gottesman was a professor in the psychology department at the University of Minnesota, where he received his Ph.D.

A native of Ohio, Gottesman studied psychology for his undergraduate and graduate degrees, became a faculty member at various universities, and spent most of his career at the University of Virginia and the University of Minnesota.

He is known for researching schizophrenia in identical twins to document the contributions of genetics and the family, social, cultural, and economic environment to the onset, progress, and inter-generational transmission of the disorder.

Gottesman has worked with researchers to analyze hospital records and conduct follow-up interviews of twins where one or both were schizophrenic.

He has also researched the effects of genetics and the environment on human violence and variations in human intelligence.Gottesman and co-researcher James Shields introduced the word epigenetics—the control of genes by biochemical signals modified by the environment from other parts of the genome—to the field of psychiatric genetics.

Gottesman has written and co-written a series of books which summarize his work.These publications include raw data from various studies, their statistical interpretation, and possible conclusions presented with necessary background material.

The books also include first-hand accounts of schizophrenic patients and relatives tending to them, giving an insight into jumbled thoughts, the disorder's primary symptom.

Gottesman and Shields have built models to explain the cause, transmission, and progression of the disorder, which is controlled by many genes acting in concert with the environment, with no cause sufficient by itself.


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