Montana State University

Three from MSU to be recognized for efforts to improve the lives of Montanans living with mental illness

October 21, 2015 -- MSU News Service

MSU President Waded Cruzado will be honored Thursday as a recipient of the 2015 NAMI Hero Award. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.
MSU Vice President for Research and Economic Development Renee Reijo Pera will be honored Thursday as a recipient of the 2015 NAMI Hero Award. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.Frances Lefcort, head of the MSU Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, will be honored Thursday as a recipient of the 2015 NAMI Hero Award. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.

MSU President Waded Cruzado will be honored Thursday as a recipient of the 2015 NAMI Hero Award. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.

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Three individuals from Montana State University will be recognized this week for their efforts to improve the lives of Montanans who live with serious mental illness and their families.

MSU President Waded Cruzado, MSU Vice President for Research and Economic Development Renee Reijo Pera and Frances Lefcort, head of the MSU Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, will be honored Thursday as recipients of the 2015 NAMI Hero Awards.

The awards will be given to nearly 20 individuals from across the state by NAMI Montana, the Montana chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The grassroots organization is dedicated to providing support, education and advocacy for Montanans who live with mental illness and their families.

Cruzado, Reijo Pera and Lefcort were honored for their efforts to establish the MSU Center for Mental Health Research and Recovery, an interdisciplinary center that is designed to use research to improve the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness through collaborative efforts between neuroscientists, clinicians, engineers, people affected by mental illness and their families. The center was established in the fall of 2014 and draws on MSU’s research strength in neuroscience, electrical engineering, computer science, biochemistry, psychology and nursing, among other disciplines.

The three are “a powerful example of incredibly accomplished researchers willing to find a way to bridge academic innovation to some of Montana's most dire challenges,” said Matt Kuntz, executive director of NAMI Montana.

Kuntz added it has been “an incredibly productive year in the fight against mental illness in Montana.

“We’ve had landmark legislation to improve our mental illness treatment system, new research endeavors to improve diagnostic and treatment processes, and extraordinary individual efforts to help people find the best possible care. NAMI Montana is honored to award some of the incredible Montanans and Montana organizations that made powerful impacts,” Kuntz said.

Others who will be honored with 2015 NAMI Montana Hero Awards include Sen. Ed Buttrey, Rep. Chuck Hunter, Gov. Steve Bullock, Tom Peluso, Rep. Jenny Eck, Rep. Ron Ehli, Rep. Carolyn Pease-Lopez, Rep. Scott Reichner, Rep. Casey Shreiner, Rep. Terry Murphy, Sen. David Wanzenried, Sen. Roger Webb, Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy and Jon Foxman.

Contact: Matt Kuntz, executive director, NAMI Montana, (406) 443-7871 or matt@namimt.org