Million-Dollar Prize for Couple Who Traced Roots of Youth Violence

18 October 2010 1:43 pm

A husband-and-wife team of neuropsychologists whose work has shed light on the interplay between genes and the environment in determining proclivity toward violence have been awarded the $1 million Klaus J. Jacobs Research Prize. Terrie Moffitt and Avshalom Caspi established that although certain genes are linked to an increased tendency for antisocial behavior, these genetic traits don't necessarily manifest themselves if the individual has had a favorable upbringing. Both researchers hold professorships at two institutions: Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and King's College London.

Moffitt and Caspi's work has led to programs to improve the social and living environment of children, especially in poor neighborhoods. The two such programs, Ostapje e.V. and a:primo—run by Heidemarie Rose and Erika Dähler, and being implemented in more than 60 towns across Germany and Switzerland—have been awarded the $200,000 Jacobs practice award.

The prizes are given every year by the Zürich-based Jacobs Foundation.