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Child Psychiatry Began at Hopkins

Leo Kanner, M.D. (1894-1981) was a man of many firsts. Born in Austria and educated in Germany, he immigrated to the United States in 1924. In 1930, shortly after coming to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Professors Adolf Meyer, Director of Psychiatry, and Edwards A. Park, Director of Pediatrics selected Dr. Kanner to develop our nation’s first child psychiatry service in a pediatric hospital.

Dr. Kanner was the first physician in the United States to be identified as a child psychiatrist. His textbook, Child Psychiatry (1935) was the first English language textbook to focus on the psychiatric problems of children. His first use of the term “child psychiatry” in the title so aptly captured the scope of the field that child psychiatry became the formal title of this medical discipline. In 1943, Dr. Kanner first described the syndrome of infantile autism. His concise and cogent clinical descriptions of children with autism continues to inform, and is the standard against which current diagnostic criteria are measured. Dr. Kanner continued as the Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at The Johns Hopkins Hospital until his retirement in 1959, although he remained active until his death at age 87.

The Division strives to continue the work started by Dr. Kanner by integrating empirically based, state-of-the art clinical care, commitment to education and training, and the development and dissemination of new knowledge. The Johns Hopkins Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship Program is a two-year program dedicated to training academic leaders, master clinicians, productive researchers, and public mental health leaders of the future. All Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellows are called Kanner Fellows to honor the legacy and mission of Dr. Leo Kanner.

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