UCLA psychiatrist Dr. James McCracken has been honored by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry with the George Tarjan, M.D., Award for Contributions in Developmental Disabilities.

The award recognizes psychiatrist who treats children and adolescents who has made significant contributions in a lifetime career or a single seminal work to the understanding or care in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities.

McCracken is the Joseph Campbell Professor of Child Psychiatry and director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at UCLA's Semel Institute and Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital. He is also director of the Child and Adult Neurodevelopmental Clinic, which he founded.

McCracken is a leading expert in the development and testing of treatments for young people with developmental and psychiatric disorders, including the application of pharmacogenetics. Pharmacogenetics is the study of inherited genetic differences that affect how an individual responds to specific drugs. His research has led to improvements in treatments for young people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety disorders.

His career achievements include leading the UCLA portion of clinical trials for the first FDA-approved medicine for children with autism and severe irritability.

Currently, McCracken is coordinating a national network of researchers as the principal investigator on a $9 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health devoted to fast-tracking studies of promising drugs to address the core deficits that underlie autism spectrum disorders.

McCracken received the Tarjan award at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s 2016 annual meeting in New York. The award is named for psychiatrist George Tarjan, who started the child psychiatry program at UCLA. He specialized in child development and mental retardation.

Last year, McCracken received the American Psychiatric Association’s highest award for research in child and adolescent psychiatry.