Each year at the Annual OCD Conference, we recognize the many advocates, experts, and other passionate individuals who have made meaningful contributions to the OCD community over the years.
Today, we want to highlight the winners of the IOCDF Outstanding Career Achievement Award, who will be honored during the Keynote & General Session on Saturday, July 30, during the OCD Conference.
We are pleased to announce that the joint winners of the 2016 IOCDF Outstanding Career Achievement Award are José Anibal Yaryura-Tobias, MD (posthumous) & Fugen Neziroglu, PhD.
Dr. Yaryura-Tobias presented or published over 270 scientific papers and book chapters. He conducted the first double blind placebo studies in the world using clomipramine. He requested that the pharmaceutical company make this medication available in the United States because there was nothing available to patients with OCD.
Dr. Neziroglu has presented over 100 papers in scientific journals and is the author or co-author of 14 books on OCD and related disorders. She established the first outpatient intensive cognitive behavioral treatment program for the treatment of OCD in the U.S. in 1976. She is also a regular contributor to the IOCDF’s online education and newsletters as well as serving as the President of OCD New York, an affiliate of the IOCDF.
It is with deepest regret that we must share the sad news that Jose A. Yaryura-Tobias, MD, passed away on March 5, 2016, survived by his loving wife, children, and grandchildren. He will be greatly missed by his colleagues, students, friends from all over the world, as well as the countless patients whose lives were equally touched by his medical skills and great compassion. As everyone who got to really know him could attest, Dr. Yaryura-Tobias was a truly unique and special individual. He wore many hats throughout his long and distinguished career—pioneering psychiatrist, poet, and social activist were just a few. He was also extremely funny and danced a mean tango with his beloved wife and intellectual partner Dr. Fugen Neziroglu given the slightest opportunity. His incredible and varied body of knowledge was clearly evident in his decades of writings, which included literally hundreds of scientific articles. And, for a person born and primarily educated in Argentina, he had the most uncanny arsenal of English words that virtually no one but him had ever heard of before.
Dr. Yaryura-Tobias’s achievements in the field of psychiatry included seminal research in the dopamine theory of schizophrenia and the biological theory of obsessive compulsive and related disorders; pioneering the serotoninergic theory of OCD back in the 1970’s; recognizing the obsessive-compulsive aspects of Tourette’s Syndrome which, along with the book he co-authored in 1983 with Dr. Neziroglu, heralded the notion of the OCD Spectrum; tirelessly working to make needed medications, like Pimozide, available in the US; and conducting the first double blind placebo studies in the world using clomipramine followed by subsequent vigorous advocacy for its approval by the FDA, which finally came through in the 1990s.
His passion for translating research into groundbreaking clinical applications was exemplified by his courage in challenging the then conventional wisdom that OCD was not a common enough disorder to study, let alone require a clinical specialty. This vision came to fruition in 1979 when he co-founded the Bio Behavioral Institute with Dr. Fugen Neziroglu. Together, they dedicated their efforts to establish a facility to conduct research, train professionals, and provide evidence-supported treatment for OCD, including an intensive CBT program at a time when other such programs did not exist. Today, Bio Behavioral continues to support this mission and has trained many practitioners and researchers who continue to make significant contributions to OCD research and treatment.
In addition to his achievements in psychiatry, Dr. Yaryura-Tobias was the author of several books of poetry and prose, in both English and Spanish, including “The Integral Being” and his short story collection, “Dios de Dios de Dios.” His poems were featured in the 1975 anthology New Voices in American Poetry, and in 1984 he received an honorable mention for the Federico Garcia Lorca International Poetry Prize and won the American Psychiatry Association Prize for Poetry in 1990. He also established the Latin American Poetry Group, Circular, and was on the board of the Long Island Poetry Collective for many years.
Dr. Yaryura-Tobias was an accomplished dancer and played witness to the rise of the greats of modern tango, having danced to Astor Piazzola, Aníbal Troilo and others in Buenos Aires during the 1950s.
Finally, Dr. Yaryura-Tobias was a member of numerous national and international societies, including the International Obsessive Compulsive Foundation. He was a founding member of the International College of Psychosomatic Medicine, the Argentine Society of Biological Psychiatry, and the World Federation of Biological Psychiatry.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Jose A. Yaryura-Tobias Research Fund to support research into treatments for OCD here: http://iocdf.org/yaryuratobiasfund.
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NYC and NY State facilities offer many opportunities for group therapy and support for sufferers, families, and parents of children with OCD. For a comprehensive list of all groups near you, please click here.
Founded in 2010, the OCD New York is a non-profit affiliate of the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF). OCD New York is a locally based group made up of people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and related disorders, as well as their families, friends, professionals and others. The mission and goals of OCD New York are to:
Educate the public and professionals about OCD in order to raise awareness and improve the quality of treatment provided in the state of New York
Improve access to resources for those with OCD and their families in the state of New York
Advocate and lobby for the OCD community in the state of New York.