November 15, 2010
Honoring Mortimer Mishkin
Announcer: It is considered the highest honor in science given by the United States government with fewer than 500 recipients in its history. Among this year’s ten recipients, formally receiving their awards at a White House ceremony in mid-November is psychologist and National Institute of Mental Health researcher Dr. Mortimer Mishkin. Arriving at NIH in 1955, Dr. Mishkin has distinguished himself as a leader in the exploration of neurobiological mechanisms of perception and memory. He currently serves as Acting Chief of the Laboratory of Neuropsychology at NIMH.
Dr. Mort Mishkin: Well, obviously, I’m hugely honored. And, I guess, I also feel very happy because it reflects on the support that I’ve gotten from NIH and NIMH all these years. I’ve been here since l955. Without the help in every conceivable way for resources, funds, people, my career wouldn’t have been possible. And so I’m really thankful that, in a way, I’ve been able to give NIMH and NIH a little bit back.
Announcer: In naming Dr. Mishkin among this year’s recipients of the National Medal of Science, President Obama said, “the extraordinary accomplishments of these scientists, engineers and inventors are a testament to American industry and ingenuity. Their achievements have redrawn the frontiers of human knowledge…”
Announcer: After receiving the call from the White House Dr. Mishkin’s initial reaction was….
Dr. Mort Mishkin: Frightening. It’s really frightening because there’s no way to live up to it.
Announcer: However, Dr. Mishkin’s six decades of accomplishment at NIMH is not lost on institute director Dr. Thomas Insel….
Dr. Thomas Insel: Oh, this is a great moment. It’s great for Mort. It’s great for the many people who have worked with him over five decades or more. But it’s also a moment to celebrate the NIMH intramural program, which has been a place for innovative science- sometimes for science that doesn’t get supported any place else. And Mort’s a great example of that.
Announcer: After receiving the extraordinary news from the White House the first person Dr. Mishkin shared the news with was his wife- along with one request…
Dr. Mort Mishkin: I told her she had to keep it quiet because it couldn’t be spread until it was announced by the White House. And she did, of course, keep it quiet but she said she was bursting with pride.
Announcer: A sentiment shared by all of Dr. Mishkin’s colleagues at the National Institute of Mental Health. Congratulations.