Joseph Biederman

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Joseph L. Biederman
Medical career
Institutions Massachusetts General Hospital
Harvard Medical School

Joseph L. Biederman is Chief of the Clinical and Research Programs in Pediatric Psychopharmacology and Adult ADHD at the Massachusetts General Hospital, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Biederman is Board Certified in General and Child Psychiatry.

Awards and honors[edit]

Biederman received the American Psychiatric Association’s Blanche Ittelson Award for Excellence in Child Psychiatric Research, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s Charlotte Norbert Rieger Award for Scientific Achievement. He has been inducted into the Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) "Hall of Fame."[1]

Biederman was the recipient of the 1998 NAMI Exemplary Psychiatrist award. He was also selected by the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society Awards committee as the recipient of the 2007 Outstanding Psychiatrist Award for Research. In 2007, Biederman received the Excellence in Research Award from the New England Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He was also awarded the Mentorship Award from the Department of Psychiatry at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

Conflict of interest investigations[edit]

In 2008 Senator Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee undertook a three year Congressional Investigation[2] that found that Joseph Biederman, M.D., Timothy Wilens, M.D., and Thomas Spencer, M.D., well-known university psychiatrists, who had promoted psychoactive drugs, had violated federal, Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital regulations by secretly receiving large sums of money from the pharmaceutical companies which made the drugs.[3] Biederman and Wilens "were leading investigators and advocates for the diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder in children and adolescents."[2] Biederman earned consulting fees of at least $1.6 million over eight years from pharmaceutical companies, but did not report much of this income to university officials.[4][5] Johnson & Johnson gave more than $700,000 to a research center that was headed by Biederman from 2002 to 2005, and some of its research was about Risperdal,[6] the company's antipsychotic drug.[7][4] Biederman responded saying that the money did not influence him and that he did not promote a specific diagnosis or treatment.[7] In 2011, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School disciplined Biederman, Wilens and Spencer for violating conflict of interest polices.[8]

In her article published in the New York Review of Books in 2009,[9][10] Dr. Marcia Angell, editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts,[11][12] cited Biederman as an example of physicians who use "drugs that have already been approved for a particular purpose for any other purpose they choose" without any basis in "good published scientific evidence." She argued that "Biederman’s own studies of the drugs he advocates to treat childhood bipolar disorder were "so small and loosely designed that they were largely inconclusive."[9][13] By 2009,

"Thanks largely to [Dr. Biederman] "children as young as two years old are now being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and treated with a cocktail of powerful drugs, many of which were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for that purpose, and none of which were approved for children below ten years of age."

— Dr. Marcia Angell

In a widely-cited multiple-author study published in 2007 in the Archives of General Psychiatry, Moreno's team noted the rapid increase in the diagnosis of youth bipolar disorder in office-based medical settings between 1994-1995 and 2002-2003. They argued that their findings highlighted the "need for clinical epidemiological reliability studies to determine the accuracy of clinical diagnoses of child and adolescent bipolar disorder in community practice."[14] This represented a "fortyfold increase" from 1994 to 2003 in the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children and a corresponding "rapid rise in the use of powerful, risky and expensive antipsychotic medicines in children."[4] In his 2008 article on Senator Grassley's investigation, New York Times journalist Harris Gardiner revealed that Biederman's "work helped to fuel" this dramatic increase.[4]

"Although many of his studies are small and often financed by drug makers, Dr. Biederman has had a vast influence on the field largely because of his position at one of the most prestigious medical institutions."

— Harris Gardiner, New York Times 2008

In 2007, Biederman was ranked as the second highest producer of high-impact papers in psychiatry overall throughout the world with 235 papers cited a total of 7048 times over the past 10 years as determined by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI).[15] The same organization ranked Biederman at #1 in terms of total citations to his papers published on ADD/ADHD in the past decade.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hall of Fame". Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD). nd. Retrieved 17 September 2015.  Could not find reference to this award on this site.
  2. ^ a b Kaplan, Stuart L. (11 July 2011). "Child Bipolar Disorder Imperiled by Conflict of Interest: Will The Credibility of Child Bipolar Disorder Be Undermined?". Psychology Today. Retrieved 17 September 2015. 
  3. ^ Kirk, Stuart A. (2013). Mad Science: Psychiatric Coercion, Diagnosis, and Drugs. Transaction Publishers. p. 21. 
  4. ^ a b c d Harris, Gardiner; Benedict Carey (2008-06-08). "Researchers Fail to Reveal Full Drug Pay". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-04. 
  5. ^ Mirviss, Laura G., Wu, June Q. (3 June 2009). "Curbing Conflict Harvard Medical School takes on conflict of interest". Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 17 September 2015. 
  6. ^ The Medicated Child, Frontline, 8 January 2008, retrieved 17 September 2015 
  7. ^ a b Duff Wilson (October 2, 2010). "Side Effects May Include Lawsuits". New York Times. 
  8. ^ Yu, Xi Crimson Staff Writer (2 July 2011). "Three Professors Face Sanctions Following Harvard Medical School Inquiry: Investigation by Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital punishes psychiatrists accused by senator". Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 17 September 2015. 
  9. ^ a b Marcia Angell (19 July 2009). "Drug Companies & Doctors: A Story of Corruption". New York Review of Books. Retrieved 17 September 2015. 
  10. ^ Thomas, Carolyn (9 November 2009). "NEJM editor: “No longer possible to believe much of clinical research published”". Thomas, Carolyn. Retrieved 17 September 2015. 
  11. ^ "Biographical Sketch of Marcia Angell, M.D., F.A.C.P", Harvard Health Caucus, retrieved 10 September 2006  External link in |work= (help)
  12. ^ "Harvard Medical School Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Faculty Research Interests 2012-13" (PDF). Retrieved Jan 8, 2013. 
  13. ^ Thomas, Carolyn (9 November 2009), No longer possible to believe much of clinical research published, retrieved 17 September 2015 
  14. ^ Moreno, C., Laje, G., Blanco, C., Jiang, H., Schmidt, A. B., Olfson, M. (September 2007). "National trends in the outpatient diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder in youth.". Archives of General Psychiatry 64 (9): 1032–9. PMID 17768268. 
  15. ^ "The most-cited in Researchers in Psychiatry Psychology". In-Cites via Essential Science Indicators. July 2007. Retrieved 17 September 2015. 
  16. ^ "ESI Special Topics: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: an interview with Dr. Joseph Biederman". Essential Science Indicators (ESI). July 2005. Retrieved 17 September 2015.